MADISON HEIGHTS (WWJ) — Hackers using ransomware executed damaging cyber attacks on Friday, hitting dozens of countries worldwide.

Matt Loria with Auxiom, a business IT firm in Madison Heights, spoke live on WWJ Newsradio 950 about how computers become vulnerable to these types of threats that use ransomware, a type of virus that holds computers hostage until the owner pays a fee.

“Many of these were from attachments to spam emails that appeared to contain invoices, job offers, security warnings and other files that looked legitimate, like PDF files,” Loria said.

Loria said even your personal computer can be at risk for ransomware threats.

“Ransomware is basically a malicious piece of software that somebody puts onto your computer and it encrypts a file and it locks it and they hold it for ransom,” Loria said. “They basically tell you that you can have your files back if you just pay us for them.”

The attack hit parts of Europe on Friday, affecting hospitals in the United Kingdom, Spanish communications firm Telefonica and FedEx.

“The crazy thing is that everyone is vulnerable,” Loria said. “These types of attacks, they appear that there was some targetedness to them, but many of these malicious ransomware attacks are simple broad-based.”