Ransomware: What is it and what can I do?

If you have important data stored on your computer such as, pictures, documents, videos, company files, databases or any other data you value, you need to read this.

You’re checking your email and you open an attachment from someone you know. In just a few moments your virus protection may alert you that it’s caught a file but, don’t worry, it got rid of it. No problem. Back to browsing.

You shut your computer down because you’re done looking at cats on the internet for now and you go to sleep. You wake up the next morning and you see a suspicious icon on your desktop.

“HELP_RESTORE_FILES”

It wasn’t there before, what the heck is that?

Inside this file you’ll find a message like thiscryptowall
At this point, the only thing you can do is unplug your computer and pray. You’ve just been hit by ransomware.

When you visit the link inside the file, you will be taken to a page that claims the following:

All your important files are encrypted.

At the moment, the cost of private key for decrypting is 2.2 BTC ~= 528USD.

They also give you the option of paying with a PayPal card, but that’s going to cost you $1000. In a lot of cases, people have had to pay to get their information back. My client paid, and did not get their information. Alas, there is nothing these scammers are obligated to do. You are at their mercy to send you the key to unlock your stuff.

So what are your options?

  • Backup
  • Call a computer guy and get him to run data recovery to restore the information (This is not a guarantee that your data is safe)
  • Give up the data

Are you prepared to give up your data?

I have to tell people all too often that pictures of their weddings, their babies, and so much more, have turned to digital dust.

That’s why I recommend all of my clients keep their info stored in 3 places.

  1. Their computer (not safe from ransomware)
  2. An external drive or flash drive (not safe from ransomware unless disconnected from the computer)
  3. A DVD or CD. (safe from ransomware)

In my professional opinion, nothing beats a DVD. 

  • The only way the information on a DVD can be lost is if it’s stolen or physically sabotaged (like broken or burnt in a fire)
  • A DVD lasts 20+ years.
  • A DVD cannot be edited (unless it’s an rw)
  • A DVD can hold a substantial amount of data (4.7 GB) and dual layer DVDs can hold twice that.
  • A DVD cannot be affected by current versions of any ransomware.

At the moment, cloud storage like GoogleDrive, DropBox, and other variants are still safe. But the writers of these terrible programs are working on a solution to lock up that data too.

Don’t take a chance with your important info.

BACK. IT. UP.

(regularly)