A Saskatoon gardening centre had its computers knocked out of commission earlier this month after they were infected with "ransomware".

Now Dutch Growers spokesman Rick Van Duyvendyk says he wants the word to get out so people can protect themselves from the malicious software, or malware.

When Dutch Growers was hit earlier this month, the company's computers froze and a message popped up saying child pornography was on the hard drive, but could be removed.

The message also said the company would have to pay $5,000 to unlock the computer.

"Right away we knew it wasn't legitimate," Van Duyvendyk said. "It's a ransom."

The company refused to pay and called in professionals to look at the computers. It learned there was not much that could be done. The server and hard drives had to be replaced.

Although Dutch Growers had its computers backed up and were able to get most of its data back, it was still an ordeal, Van Duyvendyk said.

"It's a lot of time, but it's a lot of money, too," he said.

The lesson he learned and that he wants to pass on to other business operators is that they should make sure to get all their data backed up. They should also keep their security up to date to keep malware out, he said.

The RCMP says there are different ways for ransomware to get onto one's computer, but the most common one is known as a "drive-by download."

This is as simple as visiting a site which has been compromised — the software is automatically installed on a person's computer without his or her knowledge.

Ransomware is fraud and people should not pay the fees, the RCMP says.