Ransomware is a huge threat to everyone. Without your knowledge bad people encrypt your data and then as the name implies they provide a Ransom note on your computer. You pay in untraceable bitcoins or your data is destroyed. By data I mean your documents, your family pictures, movies and everything else you store. Worst if this hits your company how are you going to operate?

This is a really serious matter. The Osterman Research study quoted in the Globe and Mail said 44 of 125 corporate respondents reported paying ransom to get their data unlocked. See the Globe and Mail for the full article. Ransomware attacks individuals and companies. The bad guys are using very sophisticated encryption so the chance of you unlocking your data in your lifetime is zero. Add another fifty years and it is still zero. I will note some encryption has been defeated but this is an exception, not the rule. Law enforcement agencies recommend not paying the ransom as this encourages them to infect others but it has been said if this is your only option most will take it. Sometimes when the ransom has been paid the bad peopple just leave without actually returning your data. 

While data backups are essential, and you need multiple versions on different devices, we all know it is better to prevent a fire then fight a fire, same applies for ransomware. I should note that once ransomware is in your network it will infect other computers. So while you may have excellent computing habits, does everyone.

It is known that Ransomware lies in wait for months to ensure they infect your backups, yes they are very sneaky. 

Number one thing to do, stop clicking on links in email unless you know the person and the email context sounds like the person you know. As an example, "Hi, thought you would be interested", is NOT good context. "Here is the link to the restaurant we are going to next Tuesday", is GOOD context assuming you know of the luncheon.

Next do not open attachments, again unless you know the person and are expecting it.  Most big mail suppliers strip dangerous attachments even before they get to you however you never know.

Emails stating they have a voice message or a package that couldn't be delivered are scams. You never gave your email to the couriers and the phone company doesn't provide this service. Curiosity kills the cat and your computer.

The bad guys know you are just itching to see what they tried to leave at your door. Bad people play on our frail human emotions, curiosity, fear and greed. All very powerful forces to get you to do what they want.

Next, buy your anti virus and keep it up to date and in good standing. Free products are good but everyone who supplies a free product supplies a better chargeable version. The only exception to this is Windows Defender within Windows 10. It has developed into an excellent product. 

So make a backup, preferably two, on two different devices, then find and use the "Delete" button in emails. It is your new best friend.

Finally keep your software up to date, what the industry calls patched. 

If your staff needs a little training Technology 411 can help. If your machine has been hit we can rebuild it. The data is likely gone !!