Ransomware Graphic

My Computer Files are Being Held for Ransom!

Computer Files Are Being Held for Ransom - RansomwareRansomware

Ransomware, often going by the specific name CryptoLocker or Cryptowall, is a form of malware that, when installed on your computer, encrypts your files and locks them with a key. It then demands a ransom in digital currency within a set amount of time, or the key will be deleted and the files will be inaccessible.

How do you get it Ransomware?

The most common way to become infected with ransomware is to download it inadvertently. When downloaded, the malware sets to work.

Ransomware is often installed by:

  • Opening email attachments
  • Clicking on banner ads

Why doesn’t my antivirus protection catch Ransomware?

Generally speaking, Ransomware is sneaky malware that slips in to your computer because you have inadvertently installed it. You’ve gone ahead and told your computer to install things, and the malware takes advantage.

[pullquote cite=”- George W.”]”I got an alarmed call from my grandma. She likes playing online games, and clicked on an ad promising her more coins for her game, and moments later she had a message across her screen telling her that her computer had been infected, and that she had to call a number and pay to get the problem resolved. Fortunately, my grandma didn’t have many files on her computer. We wiped the hard drive and reinstalled Windows. But if she’d had important paperwork or photos without any backups, she would have been in a lot of trouble.”[/pullquote][space10]

Who is the biggest target?

This malware can attack anyone, but it causes the most damage to businesses, as they have more valuable data that is not easily replaced. Ransomware is designed to get money by holding your data for ransom.

How do I avoid Ransomware?

Don’t click on things you shouldn’t, or open unexpected files. Functionally we all know this isn’t always the case, however, and sometimes files slip through because they are deceptive.

If you become infected with Ransomware:

  • Have secondary backups of important files that are not updated real time, this way, if you need to roll back, you have something unattached that is not infected.
  • Unhook your computer from the internet RIGHT AWAY. All files may not have a chance to be encrypted.

[alertbox color=”red” icon=”delete” hide=”0″]

A few companies claim to be able to undo the damage, or have released the keys to unlock encrypted data, but this has not been guaranteed to work in all cases, especially since criminals update the software all the time.

[/alertbox] [space5]

 My files are being held for ransom!

If you do find that you have this software, you have two options:

  1. Pay up and hope the keys they supply you to unlock your data works as indicated. This is risky as it encourages criminals to continue the scam, and since they ARE untrusted people, nothing is guaranteed.
  2. Wipe computer clean and restore from backup.

Hacking and computer exploits have become more sophisticated and with more businesses online, the risk is real. Precautions and backups are the most surefire way to avoid the worst of damage from hackers, criminals and emergencies when your files are being held for ransom. For more information on internet security, visit our blog at Appletree Mediaworks, LLC.

For more information visit:


Internet and Security Updates

Heartbleed Followup

Lest you think the Heartbleed concerns were merely a false alarm: 4.5 Million Patient records were stolen by hackers, presumably due to the exploit.

The hackers took advantage by finding a device that had not been patched, exploiting the bug in order to steal user credentials. They used this data later to login into the network of Community Health Systems and captured patient names, phone numbers and social security numbers.

If you are concerned that your information might be among what was stolen, our recommendation is to invest in an identity monitoring type program or to lock down your credit report so that credit cannot be opened in your name.

As we’ve said before… Update your passwords often. Keep them unique – do not use the same passwords for every online account you own. Make them challenging – include numbers, letters, different cases, and symbols if allowed. Use password management software to keep track of all this. And it is always a good idea to keep an eye on your credit report.

More Data Theft from Stores

Unrelated to Heartbleed, SuperValu, the Minnesota parent company of Cub Foods, Farm Fresh, Hornbacher’s, Shop ’n Save, and Shoppers Food and Pharmacy, Albertsons, Jewel-Osco, announced that 180 stores in North Carolina, Maryland, Virginia, Illinois, Missouri, North Dakota, and Minnesota were affected. The stores are reporting they quickly fixed the security breach and it’s safe to use credit cards in their stores again.

There’s no sign yet of the data being sold on the black markets. Credit card data is said to be selling at $20-100 per card, often purchased in bulk as one-time use.

It’s always a good idea to keep track of credit card statements; credit cards carry theft protection, and if theft is detected they should be contacted quickly as possible. It’s also wise to prepare for data and identity theft in advance, with the assumption that it will eventually happen. Make a plan of action: Contact credit-reporting agencies, get a copy of your credit report, and in the case of identity theft, file an identity theft report.