Before you all start panicking STOP! The main reason for this happening was severely out of date, in some cases, un-patched operating systems. Windows XP was mentioned many times in reports, this operating system no longer supported by Microsoft is over 17 years old! If you still owned a car (obviously apart from classics) that was 17 years old would you vouch for its reliability?
...ok I digress, let's get the official explanation of Ransomware from WikipediaRansomware is a type of malicious software that carries out the cryptoviral extortion attack from cryptovirology that blocks access to data until a ransom is paid and displays a message requesting payment to unlock it. Simple ransomware may lock the system in a way which is not difficult for a knowledgeable person to reverse. More advanced malware encrypts the victim's files, making them inaccessible, and demands a ransom payment to decrypt them. The ransomware may also encrypt the computer's Master File Table (MFT) or the entire hard drive. Thus, ransomware is a denial-of-access attack that prevents computer users from accessing files since it is intractable to decrypt the files without the decryption key. Ransomware attacks are typically carried out using a Trojan that has a payload disguised as a legitimate file.
Now for the survival guide...
- ALWAYS BACKUP - This seems basic but you wouldn't believe how often I hear customers say they don't have a backup of their files when a catastrophic attack has occurred. See more about tips for backing up your computer.
- DON'T click links in emails - If it doesn't seem right it probably isn't. The bad guys can make an email look like its from someone you know so be vigilant!
- DO run the latest version of Windows when possible. For older PCs run the newest version of Windows that your PC can handle i.e. Windows 7. Sometimes an upgrade of memory or a new hard drive will enable an upgrade to Windows 10.
- DO install software updates as they are issued, this keeps you protected from vulnerabilities as they are discovered.
- Keep antivirus/anti-malware programs up to date and carry out periodic scans. See more about antivirus programs.
- NEVER PAY! - If you've already been caught out by ransomeware DON'T PAY! The chances of them actually being true to their word and releasing your files is slim-to-none, they are criminals after all. Switch off your computer and contact The Computer Wiz on 01553 660941.