Ransomware: What is it and how do I protect myself?

I woke up last Wednesday morning, picked up my iPad and started to read my daily news. The first thing that I read was an article on Business Insider about a new type of Ransomware raging across Europe and spreading into the US. This got me thinking about how much people know about cyber security and the different types of infections people can receive on their devices, knowing or unknowingly. So, I am going to start writing about Cyber Security. In my first article, I am going to talk about Ransomware.


What is Ransomware?

Ransomware is a computer program that once on your computer and running, will start to encrypt your hard drive. What that means is using military level security, it locks down your hard drive and you can’t access any of your files. The only way to get them back to send money to who created the software, and in exchange they give you the key to unlock your hard drive. The Good Wife on CBS did a good episode on this (Season 6 Episode 5), as Ransomware typically attacks business because of their deeper pockets.



I’ve been attacked by Ransomware. What do I do?

As soon as you notice something off disconnect your network ASAP and unplug your computer and power down as fast as you can. They could be a chance the ransomware hasn’t finished encrypting your hard drive and some of your files might be able to be saved. If this is the case, contact a local Data Recovery Specialist and ask.



What happens after I pay them?

Well, this is a toss-up. Some will unlock your hard drive and files, and some won’t. It’s a risk. Many people don’t pay on principal, as you are paying a criminal.


Do I contact the police?

Yes. Contact your local police department. Many police departments have yet to adapt to online crimes such as Ransomware. After this, contact your local FBI office. The Department of Justice has a list of who to contact depending on the crime. Click here to see (https://www.justice.gov/criminal-ccips/reporting-computer-internet-related-or-intellectual-property-crime).


Geez Samuel, this is scary! How do I protect myself?

Three things you can do.

1.     Always Update your Computer/Phone/Tablet. New software update always includes security updates and patches.

2.     Keep a Back Up of all your important files. Set up a backup drive and keep a copy of your most important files. (If you need help, feel free to give us a call!)

3.     Install an anti-virus software. While macOS and Windows 10 both include anti-virus software, if might be worth wile to invest in something like Norton or Avast. Avast has a free version of their software that works great (and it’s what I use.)


I hope this information helps, and if you have any question or would like to see if you are protected give us a call at (509) 200-5306.