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The importance of keeping your data safely backed up cannot be stressed enough. We address this issue directly in this post “Frustration And Heartbreak”. But, even the most diligent user who meticulously keeps their data backed up on an external usb device would probably still lose it in a ransomware attack because of the way the malware attacks all connected drives. Cryptolocker and Cryptowall are some of the worst in the ransomware family of malware. Victims of ransomware are presented with a message on the screen that their data has been encrypted. The message goes on to give them a certain amount of time to pay a certain price for the decryption key to free their data from encryption. The dollar amounts and success rates vary significantly. What happens next is as varied as the different ransomware infections. Some people are scammed out of their money and others actually do get a good decryption key. For the majority of ransomware infections, there is very little your tech expert is going to be able to do to save the current installation of your computer. Usually, a reimaging or reinstallation of the operating system is required. However, there are some “fakes” out there that are actually pretty easy to remove – one was mentioned in a previous post. So, always call your tech expert for a diagnosis first. In order to protect yourself from ransomware make sure you have a best-in-class antivirus product and that its remains updated with the latest virus definitions. And remember, one of the best things you can do to protect yourself from all online threats is to have a healthy skepticism about anything you are presented within an email or on a web page.
Update: there is now a Ransomware Decryptor available from Kaspersky that will work on some types of ransomware. They also provide step-by-step removal instructions.
Another step you can take to protect your data is to use an online backup service like Carbonite, for which we are a reseller. Even if your backup runs continuously and Carbonite has backed up some of the encrypted files, Carbonite online backup service maintains the previous backup data for a generous amount of time (it varies for home or business versions). So, in most cases of ransomware attacks, you will still be able to get your data back if you have Carbonite. If you purchase it through The Computer Monkey, you receive free installation and backup restoration assistance. As always be careful where you click and arm yourself against ransomware and its destruction of data. Malware experts predict that the rates of “infection” will only increase as more and more criminals jump on the ransomware bandwagon.