POLICE in Barnsley have received increased reports of businesses being attacked by ransomware across the borough.

Ransomware is malicious software that prevents you from accessing your computer, or accessing data that is stored on your computer.

If your computer is infected with ransomware, the computer itself may become locked, or the data on it might be stolen, deleted or encrypted.

Normally you’re asked to make a payment - the ransom - in order to ‘unlock’ your computer or data.

Dannielle Lee, South Yorkshire Police’s cyber protect officer, said: “Ransomware attacks can have a devastating impact on organisations, with victims often requiring a significant amount of recovery time to re-enable critical services.

“The average cost of a cyber attack to a small business is around £11,000 and unfortunately there are thousands of successful attacks nationwide every day.

“Luckily, there are a number of things you can do to reduce your business’s chances of becoming a victim.

“One of those is to sign up to a free tool called Police CyberAlarm, which acts like a ‘CCTV camera’ to monitor the traffic seen by a business’s connection to the internet.

“I’d highly recommend this for organisations across South Yorkshire.”

Businesses can sign up for a Police CyberAlarm on the cyber alarm website.

They will then receive a unique code which, once added to the website, will provide access to full instructions and how to install the police CyberAlarm.

If you are a business, charity or other organisation and think you have been a victim of a cyber attack, report it to Action Fraud online at www.actionfraud.police.uk or by calling 0300 123 2040.

If you are currently suffering a live cyber attack (in progress), call 0300 123 2040 immediately.