Ransomware and Backups
One form of malicious software (malware) is ransomware, which renders your computer
unusable and demands that you send money to the hackers in order to
unlock it. In one form, it claims that the FBI (or some other
authority) has discovered your illegal activity (looking at X-rated
photos, downloading copyrighted materials, etc.) and demands payment
of a “fine.” In another form, it admits to being malware and offers
you the chance to “clean” your computer for a fee.
Particularly nasty ransomware titles include WannaCry and Cryptolocker (or Cryptlocker).
These encrypt your important data files and demands you buy a password
within a short time to unlock them before it deletes them forever.
(See references linked below.)
I recommend that you never send money to hackers (they are evil; you
don't want to support them) so your best defense is to keep good data
backups and to avoid getting infected in the first place.
I can't tell you how many times I have had this conversation with a
Rich:||I'm sorry to report that your system is corrupted beyond
repair. I recommend that we re-format your hard disk,
re-install your operating system, and restore your data
files from backups.
Rich:||You know, the ones you ran yesterday, before your system
Rich:||Or, the ones you ran last week.
Rich:||Or the ones you ran last month.
Client:||Last month? I don't have any backups. Is it too late now?
Rich:||Yes, it's too late now. I am so sorry.
My number one rule is, “Never live with just one copy of important
data.” With external hard disks under $100 at warehouse stores, I run
incremental backups each day, and every few weeks I take a full system
backup to the safe-deposit box in my bank. What do you do?
- Rich Pasco, “Every trick in the book: how hackers take over your computer”
- Rich Pasco, “Backup,” Freedom from Paper
- “Ransomware” from Microsoft Malware Protection Center
- Bill Brenner, “WannaCry benefits from unlearned lessons of Slammer, Conficker,” Sophos Naked Security, May 14, 2017
- “A 22-year-old who lives with his parents stopped the worldwide malware hack by registering a domain for $10.69,” The Guardian, May 14, 2017
- Violet Blue, “CryptoLocker's crimewave: A trail of millions in laundered Bitcoin,”
ZDNet, December 22, 2013
- Parmy Olson, “Cryptolocker Thieves Likely Making 'Millions' As Bitcoin
Breaks $1,000,” Forbes, November 27, 2013
- United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT), "Alert
(TA13-309A) CryptoLocker Ransomware Infections," November 5, 2013
- Joshua Cannell, “Cryptolocker Ransomware: What You Need To Know”
Malwarebytes Unpacked, October 8, 2013
Index to all of Rich Pasco's articles on e-mail and viruses
Rich Pasco's home page
Copyright © 2010-2017 Richard C. Pasco. All rights reserved.