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Ransomware is a sophisticated type of computer virus that encrypts user files and demands a ransom to get the decryption key. There are several different versions of ransomware such as Cryptoware and Cryptowall each version more dangerous than the last. Viruses infecting computers is as common as ants invading the picnic table – it’s bound to happen sooner or later. Prevention is of course the best route, and education is the best way to prevent virus infection. But in an age where malware and computer viruses are becoming more and more common, you cannot always prevent infection. This is why having many layers of security as well as a backup in place is so important.

The ransomware virus invades your computer in the same way other malware does. The most common ways is through email attachments and by clicking ads/links on websites. The ransomware can also exploit program and security vulnerabilities such as an out of date web browser. This is why it is so important to keep all of your software up to date – a service that Sierra Computer Group provides, automatically, for all managed clients. The virus will then spread throughout all local files, to any connected network drives, to any attached storage devices and even to cloud storage such as Dropbox or OneDrive. Once your files are encrypted, the hackers demand a ransom, usually around $300- $700, to be paid before they provide the decryption key.

If you get a ransomware virus, you have only a few options. You can pay the ransom and hope that you get the decryption key. Since there is no guarantee you will get your data back, paying the ransom is not recommended. Rebuilding data is also an option, but keep in mind that rebuilding data is costly and time consuming. The best option is restoring from a backup. Restoring from backup offers a minimal amount of downtime and the highest chance of success. Having a backup in place not only protects you from ransomware infections, but also from hardware failures and other data loss situations.

Ransomware may be more common than you think. Last year researchers estimated that Cryptowall infected over 600,000 computers and encrypted 5 billion files during a six month time period. You can have the best antivirus and strong network security, but that does not guarantee protection. If users are not educated on links they shouldn’t click and attachments they shouldn’t download then they will essentially open the door for virus infections. Sierra Computer Group offers training to educate users on how to tell what is malicious.

Here at Sierra Computer Group we have dealt with many ransomware infections successfully. Don’t wait until you have a ransomware infection, contact us today to find out how we can help protect your business, proactively.