What is Ransomware?

Ransomware is malicious software that cyber criminals use to hold your computer or computer files for ransom, demanding payment from you to get them back. It spreads through e-mail attachments, infected programs, and compromised websites. A ransomware malware program may also be called a cryptovirus, cryptotrojan, cryptolocker, cryptowall, or cryptoworm.

Some versions will display a window informing users that their computer has been locked by a local authority, and that payment is required to unlock the machine. Others will make their way on to a computer, search for files to encrypt, and then display instructions prompting a user to pay a specified fee for the files to be decrypted.

What can you do about it?

Ransomware infections can be removed, but prevention is best way to avoid losing files or data to encryption. Check out our suggestions below for preventing the infections.

  1. Update regularly.

    Make sure your security software, Windows operating system, and software like Flash and Java are up to date with their latest versions.

  2. Schedule regular scans with security software to check for malware.

    Click here for instructions on scheduling scans in STOPzilla.

  3. Do not open attachments you were not expecting or are from unknown sources.

    The infections can come from dishonest websites, social media, or even email attachments. Try creating bookmarks for frequently used sites, and access them directly instead of using search engines. Exercise caution when opening attachments or clicking links sent via email. If you do not recognize the sender, be wary of the content.

  4. Back up Data regularly.

    If your files do become encrypted, they will need to be restored from a backup. Backing up to an offline drive ensures the data cannot be encrypted.

What if you get infected?

If the ransomware screen appears it is important to try and limit the impact of the file encryption process:

  1. Disconnect your computer from the internet immediately.
  2. Turn off any cloud backup services you may use such as Office or 365Dropbox
  3. Disconnect any USB storage devices or network shares

If you have any questions, or need assistance identifying or removing Ransomware, please feel free to call or chat with STOPzilla Support. 1-877-877-9944 http://www.stopzilla.com/support

For more information about Ransomware, view the following page from the Microsoft Protection Center:

To trick users into downloading something that encrypts their files and then to demand from them hundreds of dollars to give their own data back to them is despicable. Please, take steps now so you don’t have to be the one ponying up your money and enabling this to continue.