It can strike at any time. One minute you are working on your computer and the next your computer is behaving strangely, and you can’t open your files. You look into a folder and see your files with altered file names. You look in other folders and see the same thing. You try opening Word files, Excel files, pictures nothing is working correctly. You reboot your computer because that seems to be Microsoft’s solution to most problems. But not this time. This time, rebooting solves nothing.
You might see a message pop up on your screen informing you that your files have all been encrypted. You might see a file that appears in every folder and when you open it, you will be informed of the attack. What’s happening here is that malicious software has attacked your computer and it has encrypted many if not all your documents.
The only way to decrypt these files to make them usable again is to get a decryption key. The only way to get a decryption key is to pay a ransom to the perpetrator of this attack. And the perps ask for payment in cryptocurrency, like Bitcoin, which would be untraceable. It’s like leaving a bag of unmarked cash bills on a park bench for them to pick up.
Should you pay the ransom to get your files back? Probably not. Ideally, you have everything backed up. Then it is just a matter of removing the virus and restoring the files from backup. Removing the virus might be simple and straightforward or it might be difficult. Sometimes, it can require a complete reformat of the computer to ensure that it is, in fact, clean.
But what if you do not have adequate backups of your files? Should you pay the ransom then? Let’s think about it. The ones who have perpetrated this attack on you are criminals. What is the likelihood that said criminals will keep their word and deliver the decryption key to you following your ransom payment?
What recourse would you have if you sent the ransom and then they didn’t help you decrypt your files? And, if you do pay the ransom and they do provide the key, what is stopping them from hitting you with another ransomware attack again? Maybe the next attack might demand thousands instead of hundreds of dollars. You will have proven to them that you are a good source of income for them.
infographic by: landauconsulting.com