If you’re not familiar with it, then you should keep up with the I.T. world more. It’s a new type of malware that basically takes your files away, and then charges a ransom to restore them. They don’t really take your files away–they encrypt them, typically. But don’t worry–they might as well be gone. Reverse engineering the encryption algorithms would take forever, and they are too numerous for it to work in the long run. Besides, ransomware is going to become more and more common. It’s just too lucrative.
And yes, paying the ransom will typically get your files back.
It’s also worth mentioning that this can only be done with Bitcoin, and it can be kind of a pain in the ass to buy bitcoin if you’ve never done it and aren’t particularly tech-savvy. And if you do pay it, then you’re kinda encouraging them to continue to do it. But I won’t blame you for it–you might need your stuff back, and letting go of it simply may not be an option.
There’s only one way to defeat ransomware.
Backup your stuff.
It’s not hard.
Google Drive offers a quick and easy way for you to do it, as long as you don’t need to back up more than 25 GB of stuff. Or you can just pop in a flash drive every month or two and copy all your shit onto it, then set it off to the side. It doesn’t matter, and there are countless options. Just do it, one way or another. Most of the big dogs in the ransomware world are now going after hospitals, because they can easily charge $3m to a hospital to unlock their stuff (this just happened), and since hospitals have lives on the line, they will always pay if they have to.
But there are still plenty of little people out there who will gladly take the home users and ransom their files for .25 BTC ($125~). At the moment, they’ve generally been asking about $500, which the average home user won’t be willing to pay, but they’ll figure it out sooner or later and lower their prices substantially. If you only have to pay $75, after all, to get all your stuff back that day, it suddenly becomes a lot more tempting.
Oh, it’s coming. Ransomware is coming. It’s going to be very big, and very popular.
But it’s easy to defeat.
Just make backups every so often. Voila, done. They will never be able to write software that encrypts the flash drive that you set in your desk drawer after you’ve backed up your pictures to it.
So there’s a jolly good PSA for everyone. Don’t be a douche. Backup now, before you get hit with it.
Oh, yeah–your McAfee Antivirus, Norton 360, Spybot, and AVG won’t protect you from it, either. These programs are pacifiers for the gullible, and they do very little good as far as protecting you. They sometimes function as pretty good smoke alarms, but they aren’t sprinkler systems, they aren’t the fire department, and they aren’t fire extinguishers.