What is ransomware?  You may have heard this term brought up before when referencing computers and online safety.  Ransomware is devastating PC/Mac/Linux infection that gets into your computer and encrypts all your data and then hides the decryption key to unlock it.  It’s like someone taking your pictures and important information, locking them up in a safe in your own home, and then hiding the key to the safe anywhere in the world and the attacker is the only one who has the power to give you your key back.  And generally they hold it for ransom money.  So, what should you do?

There are a few things you can do to prevent against this sort of infection, but generally a good backup is the only real solution.

Once data is encrypted, the only way to get it back is to pay the ransom money to a criminal via an untraceable currency – which can involve getting scammed even further!

  1. A safe user is the best line of defense.  Don’t open any attachments that you are unsure of.  If you get a package tracking email and aren’t expecting a package, definitely do NOT open the attachment.  Don’t be fooled by an email that claims you owe them money, etc.  Emails seem to be the most common way to get infected by ransomware, however there are other means (social networking links, downloads, etc).  I encourage you to carefully examine the senders of your emails, if they are not genuine senders, just delete the email.
  2. Backup!  The only real way to fully protect yourself is to have a backup that isn’t always connected to the computer.  A cloud backup service is a great way to keep yourself safe from ransomware.  The cloud backup solution we offer with Compucare provides version history, so if you get hit with ransomware, we’ll have all your important data safe.
  3. Not into cloud backup? You can still do this with an external drive.  However, ransomware infections can affect external hard drives and thumbdrives.  So, you would want to eject your drive after backups and the reconnect it for your next backup.  Doing this limits the time the infection has to encrypt your external hard drive/thumbdrive.

Basically, the infection starts silently and you don’t generally notice it until you go to open one of your documents and it gives you an error that the file cannot be opened or is corrupted.  Then, you go to open other files and they also are corrupted.  This is the first sign that you were hit by ransomware.  If you notice this behavior and don’t have a good backup, shut your PC down immediately to prevent the encryption from continuing.  Give us a call to seek your next actions at retrieving data.

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