Definition | RansomWare : software that is designed to encrypt (basically garble) your files and data with a password that only the malicious hackers know, holding your computer “hostage” while they name a price for you to pay to have the password and decrypt/re-access your own files.
You’ve probably seen the reports of the WannaCry hack and those that have recently been hitting companies all over the world like Merck, Maersk, Ukrainian ATM’s (Cash Machines), and Chernobyl’s Nuclear Power Plant.
Most ransomware attacks are simple enough to evade with some preparation:
- Never work with the hackers, always assume that the people hacking your computer have a malicious intent and be especially wary of those who offer you a fix to a computer problem they could have given to you in the first place. Find someone local that you can trust, whether it’s me or your local IT staff.
- Backup important data today. It’s much cheaper to purchase an external hard drive and setup a backup now than having to deal with a multitude of problems later.
- Do regular backups after the initial one, you can set up weekly, monthly, or what ever frequency works for you.
- Once you have your backups, there’s no reason to panic. Some systems can take a while to re-install from that backup, but it’s an easy process and it puts you back in control of your data and computers even if something seemingly catastrophic like a ransomware attack happens. Best of all, a good plan and backups can resolve many other problems like accidentally deleting important files, or even unexpected threats.
Backups are a great defense against many computer problems, if you have any questions, feel free to ask!