Monday, 9 May 2016

Beware! Beware! of Ransomware!!

There is a new threat on the horizon, a little scheme that Bad Guys On The Internet Inc. have come up with to try to separate people from their hard earned moolah.  Enclosed in those spurious email attachments the baddies are claiming are your bank statements, parcel instructions and even court notices, is a bit of code that will go through your hard drive encrypting documents, pictures and just about anything else you save for later use.  They then contact you through email or a pop up telling you it will cost several hundred dollars worth of bitcoins for the key to unlock your files.  This has happened locally and is looking like it will be the new big scam of 2016.

  *Examples of ransomware splash screens

The first thing you can do to avoid this happening is to not open any files that contain the extensions .zip, .exe, .bat, .cmd, etc. unless you have verified that it is actually from the person it says it is from.  Some people have been getting "court notices" that are sent unsolicited in a .zip file. Please don't open these as they have been known to make a small tear in the space-time continuum.  If we get too many of these, the universe as we know it may cease to exist and that could ruin any plans you have for the weekend.
The same warning goes for rogue web page pop-ups.  These can be coded to run any of a number of nefarious programs that could send an interstellar signal to an army of alien space ships, telling them to come out from behind Saturn and invade the earth.  We’re sure you don't want a bunch of aliens shooting lasers at your extended family members at the annual family gathering (most of them anyway).
The best way to prevent this is to close out the offending window pressing the Alt key then F4. 
We joke, but the threat is real. The best course of action is to have a backup procedure in place.  Portable USB hard drives have come down in price and are a good investment.  They often come with programs that will allow you to set up an automated backup that will begin as soon as you plug the drive in.  Don’t leave the drive connected as the ransomware could infect that along with your hard drive.  Make a schedule, perhaps once a week, when you will connect the USB hard drive, allow it to run the backup, then disconnect it when it is finished.
We can't all be out there fighting the alien horde, but we can help by keeping our little piece of the world's knowledge and information safe. Even if it's only pictures of Grandma's 80th birthday celebration.


No comments:

Post a Comment