Even if you haven’t been hit by ransomware yourself, you probably know someone who has.
Most ransomware gets straight to work as soon as it infects your computer: it scrambles some or all of your files and then callously offers to sell you a tool to unscramble them.
If you have a recent backup (one that wasn’t scrambled along with everything else!), you should be able to recover without paying, hopefully without too much trouble.
But if you don’t, and you want your data back, you have little choice but to pay up.
From time to time, the crooks make mistakes, and decryption experts find a loophole so that you can unscramble for free, but that’s unusual.
As a result, many victims end up paying the money, even though it pains them to do it, no matter how hard they try to find another way to recover their files.