Ransomware – All you need to know

What is Ransomware?

As you may have heard in the press there has been a massive attack on IT systems all over the world, affecting at least 99 countries.

Organisations such as the NHS in the UK, along with Telefonica, who own o2 in the UK have been hit by the Ransomware infection.  So, what is Ransomware and how does it work?

Ransomware has been around for quote a few years now and has been growing in both its complexity and maliciousness.  How your computer can get infected depends on what variant (there are thousands) your computer picks up.  Usually computers are infected by opening up a malicious email attachment, or by downloading an infected file from the internet.

The Ransomware then digitally encrypts all of the files and folders on your computer and demands payment via Bitcoin (a digital currency) to unencrypt the data.  Do not be fooled by thinking if you pay the ransom all will be OK, sometimes after payment the Ransomware will not unencrypt the data and the ransom is usually hundreds of pounds per machine.

 

So how do I protect my machine and its data?

There are some very simple steps that can be taken to greatly reduce the risk of your machine being infected.  Running Windows updates, and installing a good antivirus/malware solution, such as ESET, will stop the Ransomware from being able to install itself by closing off security vulnerabilities within the Microsoft operating system.

Older operating system such as Windows XP and Vista are much more susceptible to Ransomware and viruses as Microsoft no longer produce security updates for them.

 

I have an Apple Mac, so I don’t need to worry about this…

In short, yes you do.  Ransomware and viruses are no longer only affecting Windows systems.  You need to be running an antivirus solution on your Mac, and keep it up to date by running the system updates as they become available.

 

My computer has been infected, what do I do?

Firstly, turn off your machine straight away, by the plug if you have to.  This will stop Ransomware infections from infecting other computers you may have on your network.  Bring the machine into us and we can usually decrypt all of your files and remove the Ransomware from your computer.  We can then also advise you on security best practices to stop it from happening in the future.

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