Be very wary online these days!
It's a shame that the valuable tools we have come to rely on everyday to conduct our business are being turned against us more all the time. Email and internet browsing are essential tools and the perfect conduits for malware and virus's to spread. A recent outbreak of ransomware has caused a lot of concern for all computer users. Ransomware uses well known security techniques to encrypt or lock your files, making them inaccessible to the user without a special key to unlock the files. This required security key is held for ransom, a demand for anything from a few hundred to thousands of dollars will be displayed on your computer when it has completed the process of encrypting all your personal files. This encryption process happens quietly in the background while you work, and continues until all files on the local computer and on MAPPED NETWORK DRIVES are locked. This is very important for network environments where a server is used for central data storage with mapped network drives providing access for end users. An infected computer on the network will encrypt all files on the server that it can directly access through mapped drives, potentially devastating results can occur if your backups are not current and disconnected. It is imperative to have strong antivirus/antimalware software, and a good backup plan with multiple backups for important shared data, prefereably with one offsite storage. Please contact me to find out what we can do to help secure your important data from these online thieves.
Things to watch for include the inability to open your standard Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, or any other MS Office applications. You will also find your photos, music, and pdf files will likely be affected. Often you may find a strange file extension at the end of the file name, such as .ecc. Any of these signs are indications you should IMMEDIATELY shut down your computer before further damage occurs. This program works fast, a recent outbreak encrypted 10000 files locally and on the network in 35 minutes. Please be very proactive in the case of symptoms occurring on your computer, shut down and call for service.
The most common source appears to be hacked website links. It's impossible to see a hacked link before you click it, you have to be very alert to the behavior after surfing the web or clicking a download link. Many come disguised as pdf files, but when downloaded run background tasks that will infect your computer. The best defense is be alert, be suspicious, be cautious. Antivirus programs will provide some protection but none will prevent 100% of the infections from infiltrating. If you have doubts, don't click a link. If you get emails with links claiming to be from a bank or business you work with, delete the email and login to the banks website directly with your browser. Cyber thieves are notoriously good at copying all the mainstream bank logos and sending you bogus emails with hacked links, never click an email link if you don't know you can trust the source.
The good news is that disaster can be avoided by having a good backup plan, not only for server and data but also for workstations and desktops. Without those backups, your docements and photos could all be lost. Be sure to call RC Consulting for a comprehensive backup program that include mulitple backups with offsite and onsite storage, the only sure defense against being crippled by these cyber thieves.