Computer Security 5 – Ransomware

Ransomware is the new calamity striking computer users these days. Essentially, ransomware locks a person out of their computer and attempts to extort money from them in order to gain access again. It’s low, it’s despicable, it’s completely panic-inducing…and unfortunately, it’s extremely profitable for the bad guys.

So here’s how it works using the Reveton ransomware as an example. Reveton locked a person out of their computer when the computer became infected through a malware infected website (please keep your anti-virus up to date), by clicking an email attachment (remember, there are no nude photos of Anna Kournikova!), or a USB key that had the malware on it. Once it infects your computer, it displays a web page that seems to be from a police agency telling you that you’ve infringed on someone’s copyright or (even more shockingly) that you have been found guilty of having child pornography on your computer. Sometimes, it evens starts up your web-cam.

The main lesson here: don’t panic and DON’T PAY. There are anti virus solutions out there to re-gain access to your computer. Even if you pay, there is no guarantee the bad guys will give you access back.

Another unfortunate trend we’re seeing is that ransomware encrypts your files so that you lose all access to them. This means that even if you do remove the infection, you still need to decrypt your files. So please, keep your anti-virus software up to date and running. install all software patches as soon as you can and keep your files backed up. Good luck out there.

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