By Garth Jones
The other day I received a call from a friend about how his computer was hit with ransomware.
What is ransomware?
Ransomware will generally encrypt all of your files so that you can’t use them anymore. Ransomware does NOT copy your files, it just makes the files unusable. Then it “ransoms” those files for money. This is extortion!
For more details about ransomware, see the Microsoft Malware Protection Center.
How do you prevent it?
Following best practices with respect to security and anti-virus protection can help to significantly reduce the possibility of getting infected. However, the only way to prevent being infected is to accept that you will get infected. Yes, I said you will get infected! Therefore your prevention MUST also include a good backup strategy on top of any security and anti-virus measures.
In this case, I had already setup Crashplan for my friend. In a nutshell, Crashplan backs up your files to the Cloud by running a program on your computer every 15 minutes or so. This means that you will only lose a small amount of your work or data.
Over the phone, I quickly helped clean the ransomware off of their computer, and then restored their files. Overall they were back up and running within an hour.
How do you protect yourself? Start NOW! Don’t wait. Get yourself a good back-up program, so when you get caught by ransomware and asked for money to decrypt your files, you can ignore this request as your files are already backed-up. All you’ll need to do is clean your computer first before restoring your files.
How do you clean-up ransomware?
Go to the Microsoft Malware Protection Center article about ransomware and read the last bullet point, “How do I remove ransomware from my PC.” Use this link to see the expanded instructions.