written by Chris Griesemer

Have you heard of Ransomware? It is a malicious application that once activated restricts access to all files on a computer. The only way to regain access is to follow the instructions the Ransomware left on your screen which always involves paying money. The money paid is almost always in bitcoin. According to Dell SecureWorks Counter Threat Unit researcher Keith Jarvis, a Ransomware program called CryptoWall infected 625,000 victims worldwide, encrypting over 5.25 billion files and collecting $1.1 million in ransom.

You can be infected with this malicious software on either business computers or personal computers. Most of the time it arrives as a .zip file attached to an email but a new trend has to do with clicking on a popup window or a link in an email that takes you to a compromised website. Once the Ransomware software is run on your computer, a screen is displayed explaining your computer is locked and can only be unlocked once a certain amount of money is paid. It can be anywhere from $100 to $2000.

Here are some tips to help avoid this virus:

  1. Keep anti-virus software up-to-date.
  2. Keep your operating system up-to-date with the latest patches.
  3. Never click on a link in an email unless you are certain it is valid.
  4. Make sure your computer is backed up properly.

This particular virus has been around for a while but has gained a lot of momentum in this past year. I personally know 2 businesses and 3 individuals who have been a victim of Ransomware. Many security companies are predicting cloud computing will be the next target.

Remember the tips above and continue training not only employee’s but family and friends. For more information, please don’t hesitate to call Chris Griesemer or Chris Podurgiel at 417.881.0145.