Ransomware do’s and don’ts

Ransomware is that creepy hack where a hacker can take over your computer. Pay a ransom to get your computer back again. Or else!

Now, I’m not talking about that little pop-up you may get from the bottom-right of your screen that says, “Pay $29.99 to remove your spyware.” I’m talking about the nasty message you get that says, “Your files have been encrypted. Pay $2,500 to get your files back.” Yes, that nasty one. And we’ve seen it go up to $10,000 and higher.

So, what do you do? There are a lot of do’s and don’ts when you’ve been attached by ransomware.

Here are the do’s and don’ts:

Do: Track down a backup

There still may be time to restore all your files from a backup. If you have an online backup, such as DropBox or Carbonite, go to another computer, one that’s not infected, and look to restore your backup. If you have an external drive backup or another physical backup, see if you can access it from another computer. Ideally, try to disconnect your other computer off the network so it’s not connected to the ransomware computer.

Don’t: Restore a backup from the infected computer.

The files will most likely come out encrypted and render your online or offline backup useless going forward. Plus, the hacker may be wise enough to catch on and increase the ransom or cause destruction on other networked computers.

Do: Ask for success stories from the hacker.

It sounds funny, but a hacker who holds your computer ransom should be able to talk about past successes. After all, you’ll want to make sure your data will be recovered. We’ve seen ransomware people show their chops and successes by posting them on YouTube.

Do: Ask for a sample file.

See if they can do the work. Ask for a sample file. Make sure they’re legit. Ask for them to send a few files back unencrypted. See if their results are real.

Biggest question: Should you pay the ransom?

Look, the better question is how important are your files. Yes, the files can be recovered by a computer repair shop who is specialized with data recovery support, a good one who knows how to recover ransomware files. However, it is 50/50 whether your files will be recovered with file names. So, of course, the quick and easy way is to pay. Now, I’m in no way supporting these jerks. But, if you have important files that you absolutely cannot lose and you don’t have a backup, you’ll have to ask if the price is worth it. The naysayers will say this is fostering criminal activity. But, end of the day, you’ll need to see what you’re comfortable with. The concern we’ve seen is the longer you wait, the higher the ransom may go to.

If anything, hopefully, this article will push you to back up your files so you don’t have to worry about these tough ransomware issues and questions.



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