Ransomware is a kind of malware that holds your data hostage. The malware scrambles your data and makes it so that you can't access it, unless you pay a ransom, typically in Bitcoin.
It's not really clear if you can recover your data or not. Some people have been able to by paying the ransom, while others have not.
Instead, the best thing you can do is to prevent being infected in the first place. Here are some tips for protecting yourself:
- Don't install any software you weren't expecting to install. A lot of malware and ransomware are designed to trick you into installing them. They might pretend to be anti-virus, or say that you need to update your browser. Don't do it!
- Be especially careful of email attachments. A lot of malware and ransomware are spread through email. A lot of these will be caught by spam filters, but check the file extension of attachments before downloading and opening them. Avoid anything with .exe or .com
- Backup your data regularly. Keep your most important files on a separate backup hard drive, or even on cloud services.