The past few weeks have seen the discovery of a new breed of computer virus scarier than anything we’ve seen in the past. It helps to first take a brief look at a class of malware called Ransomware. Ransomware was first spotted in 1989, and is a type of malware that attempts to hold your data hostage. In the past few years, this has manifested itself with screens with FBI or RCMP or other law enforcement warnings that claim you must first pay a fee to regain access to your files. This type of Ransomware got the nickname ‘Police Trojan’ as it purported to be from the police. Thankfully, a computer expert was able to remove this type of malware and restore access to your files without paying the ransom.
About 3 weeks ago a new, extremely scary version of Ransomware started becoming very widespread. While this type isn’t actually new, this is the first time that it’s become very successful and wide-spread, and it is not going away. The new type of Ransomware now encrypts all your files in such a way that there is absolutely nothing that anyone can do to recover your files. Paying the ransom is the only method to decrypt your files once you are infected, and unfortunately paying money to some overseas hackers is a very risky proposition.
It is critical to understand: once you get infected with one of these new breed Ransomware viruses (and you should assume you will) you will have absolutely no recourse to fix the problem. There are 5 steps that you can take to protect your computer from such a virus. There may be other measures you can take to protect yourself, so contact our team for a personalized consultation.
- Online Backup. If you do get infected, the only way to get your files back is if you backed them up with an online service, such as NerdsBackup. NerdsBackup will automatically backup all your files and save multiple revisions of your files. That way, if you get infected, our team can help you recover all your files. Sign up today!
- Education. Many viruses can be stopped by a careful examination of the email link or attachment that you just received. Are you actually expecting this email and this attachment? If you are unsure, DON’T open it! Instead, call or email the person that sent it and confirm with them that they actually sent it to you. Never, ever click on a link in a banking or financial related email. If you receive an email from your bank requiring you to log into your account for any reason, don’t click on their link, but instead manually browse to their website so that you can’t be redirected to a malicious site. Consider taking a local community course on Internet Safety, or contact our team for a personalized training session.
- Good AntiVirus. No antivirus product is perfect, and you may still become infected even if you have a great product installed. However, installing a good product, like ESET NOD32, means that you have a good first line of defense.
- DNS Provider. DNS is the Internet service that turns names like nerdsonsite.com into an IP address your computer can understand and deliver to your web browser. Most computers use the default service that their Internet Service Provider (ISP) provides to them, and often this is a a very poor service and lacking in many great features. By converting to a DNS provider such as OpenDNS, you can gain many hidden protections against malicious websites. Configuring such a DNS provider can take only a few minutes, and is one of leading recommendations for all new clients that we visit.
- Internet Filter. It used to be that an Internet Filter was all about keeping pornography out of your home. While filters still do this today, the focus of many new filters have turned to keeping malicious sites out of your home as well. OpenDNS also provides such a filter and can solve recommendation #4 at the same time. If you are a home user, you may want to consider FamilyShield, while business users should give our team a call to discuss better options.
Our team would be happy to give your business or family a consultation as to how safe you are on the Internet. NerdsBackup is a critical piece of technology that will help you recover from any disaster, but there are many other things we can do to keep you safe on the Internet. Give our team a call today!