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 client:
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, “Backup,” Freedom from Paper
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
Copyright © 2010-2017 Richard C. Pasco. All rights reserved.