For many years, viruses and other malicious software (malware) attacks have been annoying for many of us! Yes, annoying…but that was about it. Get your computer cleaned up, then move on. In the worst case, passwords or other data was stolen and it was a pain to change passwords, establish a credit freeze, etc. Annoying…but we moved on. No major damage done.
A couple years ago there was a new player in the malicious software game. A fairly new, but VERY DANGEROUS malware – RANSOMWARE. This one was a major game changer. Out with the annoying messages and in with software that LOCKED UP YOUR DATA AND DEMANDED PAYMENT! With names like CryptoLocker and CryptoWall, this is a type of malware to take seriously and avoid!
Wait…there’s more. You can get your computer infected by just going to a website (via what’s called a drive-by download). Further, most antivirus programs will not detect or protect you from this type of malicious software. If that weren’t bad enough, the software works silently in the background, not telling you that it’s there until it’s damage is done and it has ENCRYPTED ALL OF YOUR IMPORTANT FILES! All of your documents, pictures, spreadsheets, etc. are now locked with a relatively impossible to break encryption and the bad guys are offering you the ‘key’ to unlock the files starting at $600!
If you thought that was bad, there’s an even worse problem for some. The Ransomware not only encrypts the data on YOUR computer, but it can reach out to any drive letter your computer has access to and encrypt the data on it too! That means that if you have a network (many businesses and homes do) with 20 computers on it, for example, if any one of them gets infected, it can encrypt the data on your server that all 20 computers access. The days of one person’s day getting ruined because they got a virus are over! One person on your network that clicks on an email attachment can ruin EVERYONE else’s day! Have I worried you yet? If so, good.
What can you do to protect yourself from this threat? I’m glad you asked.
#1 – I’ve been talking about this for years….BACKUP! Let me repeat…BACKUP YOUR DATA! More than ever, it important to backup your data. This malware has infected hundreds of thousands of computers! If all of them had good backups, this Ransomware would not exist! More than ever, I am recommending a ‘cloud’ backup for 2 reasons. 1 – It generally works well to backup your data in the background automatically (you don’t have to remember to connect that backup drive). 2 – If you have a ‘local’ backup drive, there is a chance that the Ransomware can encrypt your backup, thus rendering it useless.
#2 – BE CAREFUL. I basically NEVER open email attachments where I’m not sure what it is. Zip file attachments. NEVER! Always use an updated, alternate browser (NOT that old version of Internet Explorer)! Updates, Updates, updates!
#3 – Install CryptoPrevent. CryptoPrevent is a FREE program that makes some changes to your computer (group policy changes, etc) that result in the Ransomware malware not being able to infect your computer. The program is free for home or business users, but does not automatically update itself. To update it, you can click the update button in the program for free or you can buy the Premium edition (only $15).
ok..now would be a GREAT time to click on the above link and install CryptoPrevent. When you’re done, if you have any important data on your computer (or any drive your computer is attached to), PLEASE make sure to get that backup done! You do NOT want your computer to display a message like the one below.
As always, give us a call at Discount Computer Service or bring your computer by if we can help you with this or any other issue. Cheers!