Randsomware is a form of attack from the internet effecting thousands of users and businesses around the world. It is one of the fastest growing attacks on computers in 2016.
It has become very popular among attackers. Here is how it works, and how you can avoid being attacked.
First, a file is downloaded and executed into a user's computer. The file can be an attachment from a website, email, or from a memory stick that is inserted into a computer or laptop. The file can be disguised as a song, a pdf file, a movie, or a word processing document.
Once installed, the user will get a full screen warning, and depending on the variant, will be told to pay up an amount of several hundred dollars to be fixed. You either have an option to call a toll free number (which they say they are part of the Microsoft team which they are not) , or they force you to pay via Bitcoin or some other non traceable fund.
The danger becomes, that some of the more dangerous variants of randsomware out there, will encrypt your files on the pc if you do not pay them within a certain period of time, usually within a couple of days. Once the files are entirely encrypted, they will charge more money to get them back. At this point, you may have lost your entire computer, unless you have a backup.
Some also warn they will start deleting files every hour until they are paid.
Pretty scary stuff. And its real. It is estimated almost half the businesses in the USA were targeted in 2016 and it is estimated to grow in 2017. Some randsomware attackers are going a step further and going from your work computer into corporate servers and infecting them too. The problem with firewalls, is they protect from outside attacks, but they cannot protect from a pc that is infected from within a corporate network.
If you feel one of your computers may have been infected, turn off the computer immediately. Write down everything you know from the most recent events and call us. We can help. Do not try to resolve the issues yourself.
If you see an email from someone giving you a receipt of payment, asking you for payment, or tracking shipments you are unaware of , then do not open any attachments. Spoofing emails make it look like it is coming from your bank or institution you recognize, but the reply to email address is something completely different.
Beware of sites asking to click on to update your information ... such as many sites in Facebook try to give away free trips, all you need to do is like, share, then click on an external link to another website to get your information. Once they have that information they can use this to trick you into downloading files that are malicious.
An extra level of protection to block malware is available, which runs parallel to your existing antivirus is RandsomFree by Cybereason.com. Its free, and I highly recommend using it on all your pc's. This program will block any suspected ransomware from encrypting your files and immediately block the threats.