How To Protect Yourself From Ransomware

It makes me sad to see how many of our customers are falling victim to ransomware attacks, especially since it could easily have been avoided.

I had my first ransomware encounter in 2006, when a virus called “Trojan.Pgpcoder” infected a friend’s PC.

It locked away all her pictures, music, movies, and documents and demanded hundreds of dollars for the unlock key. I’d never seen it before, but did some research and was able to salvage much of her data using data recovery techniques.

I didn’t really see anything like it again until 2013, when I was suddenly inundated with calls to remove the “FBI Moneypak” virus.

This infection also locked users out of their computer unless they paid hundreds of dollars, but I was able to fix these by booting to safe mode, removing the startup items, and running a scan with MalwareBytes before rebooting and doing full scans.

Last month my customers, and even my peers, fell victim to the WannaCry virus. Like the 2006 trojan, this virus encrypts the data (pics, docs, vids, music) and demands hundreds of dollars to unlock.

Unlike the 2006 trojan however, I CAN’T FIX THIS – NO-ONE CAN!

It overwrites the existing files with a new copy with an (impossible-to-crack) encryption. Your only option, once infected, is to restore data from an uninfected backup, or pay and pray. Many victims who’ve paid the ransom never got a response.

There was a new version released to the wild today, called PETYA and it’s the fastest spreading version ever released. It’s even taken down Chernobyl’s radiation monitoring, forcing them to use manual controls.

Quickbooks, baby photos, college essays, inventory data, and a memoir in progress are just some of the things I’ve seen lost to encryption-based ransomware, and it’s spreading FAST!

HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF FROM RANSOMWARE:

To protect yourself from this disaster, you’ll need three things.

  1. A solid real-time antivirus like MalwareBytes, or Kaspersky, that it fully up-to-date.
  2. A recent backup to the cloud, or an offline device like an external hard drive.
  3. The Microsoft Windows Update that includes the patch released on March 14th.

Please! If you need help, contact Brainy Beaver.  We always get panicked calls from unfortunate victims, when it’s too late to do anything but wipe their computers clean. You can prevent irrevocable data loss with some simple updates, and a quick backup of your PC!

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