Malicious software can hold your data hostage. For example, the Archiveus Trojan copies the contents of the My Documents folder into a password-protected file and then deletes the original files. It leaves a message telling you that you require a 30-character password to access the folder, and that you will be sent the password if you make purchases from an online pharmacy.
In some cases, the password or key is concealed inside the Trojan’s code and can be retrieved by malware analysts. However, some criminals use asymmetric or public-key encryption (which uses one key to encrypt the data, but another to decrypt it) so that the password is not easily recoverable.
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