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Beware of Ransomware!

 

Now there is even more reason to keep your computers up to date with the latest anti-virus and malware protection. This new kid on the block masquerades as an official warning that the user has infringed either copyright laws by downloading illegal software or suggesting that the computer has been used to browse internet sites containing pornagraphic material. The user is then asked to pay a fine to remove the warning from the computer.

 

On the face of it this is just like any other virus but it goes even further by encrypting personal files on the computer which then denies you access to the file without the appropriate password and unlike the traditional virus it uses an encryption key that is only known to the author of the virus. If your computer is infected in such a way it is virtually impossible to unlock the infected files by trying to crack the code, especially where the encryption is based on a highly secure 1024 bit RSA key.

 

These types of virus have until now only been seen in Russia and some far eastern countries but more recently have been detected in Europe and the United States. What can be done to protect your computer from such attacks? A good up to date anti-virus program is certainly essential but used alone is not enough to protect you and your data. You also need to have a solid and reliable backup system in place so that you can recover any infected or encrypted files without the need to obtain the relevant key. The backups must be "off-line" so they are safe from infection otherwise they also become a target for the virus. To protect your whole system you should also have a systems recover disk so that you can reload a clean verion of your operating system to prevent future infection.

 

The watchword here is prevention is better than a cure. Stay off of websites that you suspect contain dubious content and don't open emails that could be infected. Hopefully you will never have to cope with an attack of this nature but if you want to protect yourself and require help or advice then please contact us to arrange a meeting.