When it comes to ransomware, feeling lucky won’t get you far.
Words cannot describe how destructive ransomware has been to the lives of those unlucky enough to face it; and if they could they would quickly be erased by the hackers that got control of your computer.
Ransomware is nasty. It finds essential files like photos, accounting books, documents, and other personal data, and makes encrypted copies before deleting the originals. With the files made completely inaccessible, the unfortunate user is often asked to pay up to thousands of dollars to have them back. Don’t think “It won’t happen to me” – if you use email or browse the web, you are at risk.
Ransomware is usually spread via dodgy emails or banner adverts which bait victims to click a link and unwittingly let a hacker in. The most recent example I have seen was actually an attempt to trick me into being hacked – an email claiming to be from Australia Post (see picture below) alleged I had missed a delivery. I hadn’t. The emails look completely legitimate, but clicking the link will be more painful than missing a parcel.
So, how can you avoid ransomware? Here are three basic tips:
1. If you receive an email which does not look right or which you didn’t expect, don’t open it. Just move it to the bin or a quarantine folder.
2. Ensure your computer has the latest updates installed and get a good antivirus program with anti-ransomware protection.
3. Most important of all is a strategy for comprehensive, regular backups. Use an external drive to back up your data and REMOVE that drive when you are not backing up. If this is too hard or you run a business, talk to your local computer repairer for a cost effective periodic cloning service.
If you would like to learn more about ransomware, there are a few handy resources: