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DIY ransomware is 'easy to use and free'

Security experts say a sharp increase in ransomware attacks online is in part a result of how easy the malware is to acquire.

Researchers at Cylance and AlienVault were able to find and download basic ransomware using a normal search engine, and more advanced versions on the so-called dark net within minutes.

The off-the-shelf malware does not require technical knowledge and can be used to lock victims' computer files and demand a ransom in exchange for a code to unlock them.

The researchers said the services were becoming increasingly user-friendly with some featuring technical support through forums or email.

While it is generally illegal to use ransomware in many countries it is not illegal to create it or offer it for sale.

Both companies advise internet users to keep their operating systems and anti-virus and malware protection software up to date.

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