Last July, we posted What is ransomware? If your computer is infected with ransomware, the hacker encrypts all of your data and then offers to decrypt it in exchange for payment. If you do get hit with ransomware, you have two choices: (1) pay, or (2) wipe your hard drive and restore it from backup.
Did you know that your computer can get infected with ransomware when you visit safe, familiar web sites like MSN.com or AOL.com, national weather web sites, everyday news sites like the New York Times, and other "safe" places? It's true. That's because these sites host advertisements, which are run by third parties that they do business with. All those little ads that you see popping up on every news site you visit—that is called adware.
If you get a pop-up like this, you are a victim of ransomware:
It isn't that the big name web site owners like New York Times aren't being careful, it's that the adware companies suffer some sort of breach or domain name takeover before anyone else realizes it, and they start serving up malicious ad links on the "safe" sites that we are familiar with and use every day.
And if you're smart, you do not click those links. They can be downright convincing, but if your personal rule is "don't click," no matter how enticing an ad may be, then you are practicing safe browsing. Make this your mantra when surfing the web: Do. Not. Click. Ads.
For details read Big-name sites hit by rash of malicious ads spreading crypto ransomware [Updated].