Expert explains ‘Ransomware’

By Allen Miller

CYBERSPACE — Anyone with a computer probably knows a new version of Ransomware — called WannaCry — wreaked havoc last week. Known as ‘malware,’ this insidious attack has affected approximately 200,000 computers in over 150 countries thus far.

One surprising factoid is that the Ransomware may have been developed by our own National Security Agency, which leaked. Some believe the intentional dissemination was an “inside job”.

Ransomware encrypts all the files on a computer. Unless you pay the ransom, your files are locked forever. Your pictures, documents, etc. will be locked and inaccessible.


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Since WannaCry was released, there have been several variants written and released.

On the upside of things, WannaCry does not affect Windows 10. If you are running Windows 10, you are safe (in theory). Whether or not the variants affect Windows 10 remains to be seen.

In most cases I can remove the virus for my clients, and “save” your computer but I can not restore your files.

This is one more reason to have a reliable backup system in place – something that I preach on a regular basis! Typically a good backup routine costs approximately $150. What price do you put on your files? Your pictures? Your documents? Your QuickBooks and Excel spreadsheets?

In my home, I run two hardware firewalls simultaneously. I have all the patches applied to my Windows 10 computers. I still keep my backups up to date because Ransomware is the worst kind of virus in existence (in my humble opinion).

I strongly recommend making certain your computer has the latest updates installed. Consider putting a hardware firewall on your network, and be sure to have up to date backups in case it comes to that!

Editor’s note: Allen Miller lives in Oriental and has, for years, written a regular column for the County Compass titled ‘Ask Mr. Miller.’ Readers may contact this expert by e-mail: al@awm.bz.

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