Ransomware has been around for awhile, but has seen a resurgence in the media lately with the wide spread of the ‘Crybaby’ malware. 

So you may be asking what is ransomware?  Let me answer that for you.  Ransomware is a virus/malware that infects your computer and then starts to encrypt your files making them useless unless you pay a ransom to get the password to un-encrypt them.  Encrypting means that malware takes your files and essentially scrambles them so you end up with a hard drive full of unreadable data.  Bottom line:  you lose your pictures of your vacation in Hawaii, all that music in you iTunes collection, your financial data, those awesome Power Point presentations you worked all those weekends on, that Word document of your Great Grandmother’s secret cookie recipe, etc. 

So you got hit with ransomware.  You just have to suck it up and pay the couple of hundred dollars to get the password, right?  Maybe.  It’s been reported that paying the ransom sometimes works and sometimes doesn’t.  Not to mention that you might be giving your credit card information to a Russian hacker who might sell it for a new Xbox.  

Let’s talk about closing the barn door after the cow’s been stolen.  In other words let’s talk prevention.  Here is what you can do to not get stung with ransomware as well as other nasty computer things

  1. If you know me you’ll know that I always preach about backing up your computer.  Keep in mind that when are choosing a backup solution, whether it be a cloud solution or a hard drive sitting on your desk, you need “revision backups.”  This means that does not just overwrite your files when you edit them, it keeps a copy of all of the revisions.  This way if you do get hit and your files get encrypted you will have a copy of an older (un-encrypted) version.
  2. Follow the Never Rule: Never open spam emails or emails from unknown senders. Never download attachments from spam emails or suspicious emails. Never click links in spam emails or suspicious emails.
  3. The bad guys will take advantage of vulnerabilities found in software to install malware, so it is important to keep the operating system and software on your computer up-to-date by installing the latest security patches and updates.

These are the 3 most important things to do but if you’d like find out even more as well as some great tips and trick come to one of my security talks.  Check this website for dates and times.

Christopher Diamond is the driving force behind CDA Tech Pros (http://cdatechpros.com), a full service computer consulting and support firm in the Phoenix area of Arizona.   Christopher honed his skills supporting the IT departments in the entertainment industry in California until he relocated to Mesa, AZ in 2005.  He now offers the same corporate grade support to businesses in the Valley with a wide range of services including Consulting, Implementation, & Support for Computers, Servers, & Networks, IT Security Assessments & Solutions as well as Website DevelopmentDesigners Circle is a good example of Chris’s technical expertise