By Paul Vaccarelli
We are all aware of malware, adware, and spyware. Recently a new kind of threat has hit some computers. It is called, “Ransomware”
In the occurrences I have seen, the victim gets an email with what appears to be a fax attachment in pdf form. When the attachment is opened nothing appears to happen right away. The next time the machine is booted, however, a webpage opens immediately telling the victim the data on their hard drive has been encrypted. If they want the data decrypted, they must click a link and pay a “fee” of a few hundred dollars in order to get the decryption code. All files in the documents directory are no longer accessible. Microsoft Word, for example, will no longer recognize Word files and cannot open them. Unfortunately, the only way to view your data again, is to pay the ransom. Anti-virus programs cannot repair the damage.
Your best protection against ransomware is to not open any email attachment unless you are absolutely sure of its source. In addition, make sure all your important data are backed up regularly and your application program disks or activation keys are readily available. In case you do get hit with ransomware, you or a technician can reload your machine with windows and your backed up data.
Paul Vaccarelli is general manager of PC-911, LLC. He can be reached at 303 807 2911. Phone consultations are free.