The cyber attacks today again the NHS, Telefonica and several other global companies, brings home the damage that ransomware can do when your computer is attacked.
Ransomware is a virus that once installed on your computer, will encrypt all files. The virus is normally contained within a malicious email or fake update. Once your files are encrypted, there is currently no recovery method. A “ransom” message will be displayed on your screen asking for a set fee to be paid in order to unlock your files. The ransom to the NHS today was $300 per infected pc. Even if this ransom is paid, there is no guarantee files will be decrypted. The ransom is also requested in Bitcoin, a difficult internet currency to trace.
Ways to protect your data
- Always ensure you have up to date anti-virus software. PC Repair Leeds has used and recommended AVG for many years.Whilst we recommend the paid edition, the free version is better than no ant-virus.
- Use a secondary anti-malware program. We recommend Malwarebytes. The free version allows the user to manually update and scan for malware that might have got past your anti-virus.
- Always check thoroughly any attachments or links within emails. Even if you read your email on a website rather than downloading via Outlook or Mail, any attachment or link can self install the virus on your computer. Emails are the most common way to spread viruses.
- Ensure you have a more than one backup . We suggest purchased version of a Cloud backup solution. PC Repair Leeds recommends Dropbox but there many other solutions such as Carbonite, Microsoft One Drive. Whilst a ransomware attack will still encrypt your local computer files, including the local cloud folder, the cloud provider will be able to roll back your data by a matter of days or hours. Also ensure you have a separate copy of your data held on a USB drive. Only plug the drive into your computer when you are performing the backup. When not in use, unplug the USB drive. (see our Backup page here)
- Have an I.T professional perform a full maintenance on your computer, every 6 -12 months. A maintenance will help remove any latent malware.
If your computer gets infected, always have an I.T professional completely wipe your computer. PC Repair Leeds have seen situations where a ransom has been paid, the data decrypted, only to be encrypted a week later.
A ransomware virus can have serious ramifications. Not only will your data be lost, but pertinent data such as credit card and password information can be compromised. Take a minute now to check you have done everything to protect your data. Once its gone, its gone.