Reading this post could potentially save you thousands of dollar or lost memories and work. I have every intention to scare you because it can happen to you or your business.
By now you've probably heard of "Ransomware" in one form or another. On the news, through this page or through friends. If not, a brief summary would be that if you get infected by it, it encrypts your files and forces you to pay to get them back. In some cases it permanently deletes files to ensure prompt payment. If this happens there is NO WAY OF GETTING YOUR DATA BACK without either paying the ransom (anywhere between $150-$10,000 worth of Bitcoin, it varies greatly) or recovering from backups.
These viruses are getting worse and far more frequent as time goes on and becoming harder to detect through normal means. No anti-virus protection is bullet proof, you have to be vigilant in protecting yourself.
Here are some steps to help you.
1. If you're not expecting it, don't open it. Email seems to be the main source of this virus. It comes in disguised as an invoice or resume most often. I've frequently seen in come in as a .zip file but even Microsoft Word and Excel documents can contain the virus as well so you need to be extra careful. If you weren't expecting the file, call the person who sent it to you BEFORE trying to open it.
2. If you open it anyway (see step 1) and it looks like nothing is happening, shut down your computer immediately. Encryption isn't immediate. You'll lose some files here and there but by shutting down your computer you prevent the program from encrypting most of your files. Give us a call and we can back up your files without having to turn the computer back on again.
3. Have backups!!! I can't stress this enough. An external hard drive, a USB flash drive, a cloud drive (Google drive, Dropbox), or an online service like Backblaze (easiest thing to set up). It's an up-front cost you may not want to pay, but believe me when I say you'll wish you had.
Again, I really am trying to scare you because I've seen individuals and businesses get hit by this. Some people have lost tens of thousands of pictures, videos, and precious memories. Some businesses have had to pay over $1000 to get their files back and were down for half a week waiting for the Bitcoin transfer to go through. Don't let this happen to you!
If you have questions about this feel free to call us. We can answer any questions you have about this. We can arrange to see if your current backups are adequate and provide solutions if not.
Stay safe on the internet!