Ransomware, the newest and most dangerous form of Malware, is more than a potential source of identify theft or an inconvenience slowing down your computer and driving you nuts with pop-up ads. Now they actually encrypt your data and demand you pay them to decrypt it and give it back to you. On top of that, since they've had access to your data, your identity is also in danger.
One of the latest cyber-hostage takings took place at Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center, where employees were reduced to using manual paper forms and FAX machines, while many patients were redirected to hospitals over an hour away for treatment. The Ransomware authors demanded $3.6 million in Bitcoin for the data held hostage. Of course, on top of the insult of having to pay the money, there's no guarantee the hostage takers will actually deliver the goods!
There are many ways to backup your data, ranging from built-in utilities to third-party software, and backup services providers like Carbonite and Mozy.
More recent versions of Windows allow you to set up a backup process by clicking on Start->Control Panel->Security->Backup. The software will walk you through the backup process. A large USB memory stick or larger external drive to store the data on will work for you, depending upon how much data you have. In a pinch, you can even backup to your DVR/CD drive.
As always, feel free to contact ACS should you require professional consulting services to assist you in implementing a backup process.