Ransomware is increasingly becoming a problem for companies, and the CEO of a leading computer security firm says he fears 2017 could see entire companies shut down until they pay up, or risk losing all their data.

Ransomware works by infiltrating a computer with malware and then encrypting all the files on the disk. The user is presented with a limited time offer: Lose all your data or send money with the promise your data will be unlocked. The fee typically varies from tens of dollars to hundreds of dollars and often has to be transmitted in Bitcoin.

The problem began on a fairly small scale, targeting individual users, but has been growing. Last year, a hospital in Los Angeles admitted to paying $17,000 to get its system unlocked, and a report in October said ransomware cases were on course to quadruple in 2016 over the previous year.

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