What is Ransomeware?

Have you heard of the virus type of Ransomware? Even if you haven’t watch the short video below to get a brief overview of one of the newest digital weapon threatening both home and business computers.

Even if you have antivirus software on your computer such as Norton, Kaspersky, or Eset, they currently have no real effective way of stopping Ransomware virus’s. The most common way Ransomware infects a computer is through an email attachment.

How Are Computers Infected?

Often times these emails have very emotional subjects with attachments that make the end user want to open them. For instance I have personally these types of emails:

  • An email from a lawyer with attached divorce papers
  • Subpoena in regards to a lawsuit you are now a part of
  • Delayed order delivery details
  • Shared file attachments
  • Late payment notifications

As you can see these email types are simple ways to get you to want to open up the email attachment.  The difficult part of these types of emails is that most times they are word or excel documents which look like they are safe files.  Once you open them however, a message often appears saying something to the affect that you need to update your document settings to view the file.  Once you do, you are now infected.  They are often very tricky.

Email is not the only way to be infected with Ransomware.  Recently, a local high school district website just across the border in Idaho was running an older version of WordPress which is a website development tool.  Hackers found a vulnerability in the website so that when users visited the site, all the text turned into gibberish and prompted the user to install a new font to be able to view the site properly (see attached screenshot).  Once the end user clicked “Update”, the computer was infected with Ransomware.

The point of this post is not to scare you, the point is to make you think about the items that you automatically click on when you are using your computer assuming it won’t do any harm.

Another point to think about is do you have any documents including pictures, files, music etc in only one location?  If you do you are taking a risk from not only Ransomware but hardware issues such as a failed hard drive.

In the past 6 months I have had clients with 3 cases of failed hard drives and 4 cases of Ransomware with no backups, meaning they lost potentially thousands of childhood pictures, tax information, important schoolwork, years of collected music.

What can you do to protect yourself?

The only good preventative plan for losing files is to backup regularly or use special backup software to back data up to the cloud.  Services like Dropbox are a good way to backup documents but often times the free versions of these services will not allow you to very much data or files which will be eaten up fairly quickly with music or a few thousand pictures. Other services like Amazon Prime, for instance will allow you to upload unlimited to their cloud but is limited on the space you can use for other types of files such as videos.

Contact RJS Computer Services if you would need any help with different data backup options. (541) 321-0155