There has been a steady climb in internet piracy over the past decade, and ransomware – barely heard of a year ago is now a serious threat. Here is the way it works – you click on an on-line ad or e-mail attachment and instantly malware attacks and blocks your files. You will soon receive a ransom note that may look like it comes from the FBI or other officious group, (often a part of the ransomware family which includes Crypto Wall and others) demanding payment through Bitcoin – an untraceable virtual currency. The threat is that if payment is not received by the deadline, the decryption key will be destroyed, leaving your data irretrievable.
To Protect Your Computer – Never open e-mails or attachments from unknown senders. If a salutation on an e-mail does not “sound” like the person purportedly sending it – don’t open it without checking with that person – their address may have been hacked and their identity stolen. Don’t click on ads; enter a company’s website through their home page. Enable pop-up blockers and antivirus software such as McAfee or Symantec. Keep software updated. Backup everything on an external hard drive; don’t rely solely on the Cloud; if files sync automatically they can also be compromised. Remember that while PCs are most vulnerable, Macs, smartphones and tablets are also being targeted.
Here is what to do – IMMEDIATELY Disconnect from the internet experts advise. Wipe your hard drive – either follow steps for a factory reset, if you know what you are doing, OR take your computer to a servicing shop for assistance. Resist paying, there is no guarantee the data will be unlocked. File a report with the Internet Crime Complaint Center (ic3gov).