Ransomware….the last thing you want your IT guy to say. You may have heard the horror stories, you may have even experienced the sting of Ransomware yourself or you may have no idea what Ransomware is; either way keep reading because it may just save your computer life.
Ransomware is in the business of making money and you are their number one customer! Yes it’s true, some gremlin in a dungeon is sitting on his computer waiting for you to run Ransomware on your system and once the damage is done you get a very “polite” message telling you to pay up or you will never see your files again
The main method of infection is through your emails. If you receive an email from a person or company you don’t know and there is a suspicious ZIP file attached to that email, don’t open it, delete it. Once that ZIP file is opened CryptoLocker gets to work and it isn’t pretty. Usually these emails are easy to pick because they will use a scare tactic to get you to open it, for example “Overdue Invoice”, “Urgent request for payment”, “Receipt for your recent purchase of $XXXX.XX”. The giveaway is that the standard user never receives emails with files that are zipped, especially if the email is from a legitimate sender. Other infection points include Macro enabled Word documents, malicious websites and adware.
Ransomware works by encrypting every file on your computer and in extreme circumstances it can encrypt every single file on your home or business network. Once a file is encrypted you need a special key to decrypt it. Your files are useless while they are encrypted. But here is where it gets even worse. Ransomware can even encrypt your backups if they are accessible by the computer or network, so even your backups are rendered useless.
So, you pay the ransom and get your files back? Is it as easy as that?
Unfortunately the creators of the Ransomware aren’t that nice (go figure!). You can pay the ransom but there is no guarantee the gremlins will give you the key you need to decrypt your files. There is some merit in never paying the ransom at all, as you run the risk of opening other doors that may come back to bite as well.
The hard part about being hit with a Ransomware virus is there is nothing you can do about it once it’s already started. Your files will be lost and your computer becomes a nothing more than a big paper weight. It is never easy telling someone that all their precious memories are now lost forever. But there is hope if you take pro-active action right now!
Backup, backup, backup! Backup all your files on a weekly basis (Daily if practical) to an external Hard Drive or Cloud based backup service. Once you have backed up all your files make sure that Hard Drive is disconnected from your system and kept in a safe place. Keep your virus scanner up to date! Newer virus scanners like Kaspersky have a Ransomware module that detects if you have been hit by Ransomware attack and can stop it dead in its tracks before too much damage is done. Be wary of email attachments from people or organisations you don’t know and if a ZIP file looks suspicious, don’t open it. Keep to safe websites and never install programs that you don’t understand.
Our technicians at Hypercore can help you set up systems to recover from Ransomware attacks on your home and business computers with minimal downtime. We can also assist you if you have already been affected by Ransomware or would just like to discuss what services and support Hypercore can offer you.
Prevention is always better than cure. If you would like to take preventative action and don’t know where to start, then don’t hesitate to give us a call.