Beware! ransomware locks up your computer or phone until you pay

Screen Shot 2015-01-22 at 6.26.30 PMWAKV Radio Station in Plainwell, MI had its show archives and music wiped out by ransomware thieves. Fortunately, they had their music library backed up on another computer.

CNet writer Seth Rosenblatt explains in his report “Your computer and smartphone, held hostage: Cybercriminals are making their attacks personal, remotely locking your computers and smartphones until you pay a hefty ransom.”

The mother of a New York Times writer got ransomeware hacked and paid $200 to get access to her data back. As Alina Simone’s family learned, the criminals don’t want your data, they just want your money. And they’re getting plenty of it:

Some experts estimate that CryptoLocker hackers cleared around $30 million in 100 days in 2013. And more than a million PCs worldwide have been hit with the CryptoWall virus.

Morals to the story

1 Backup, backup, backup. It’s not a question of if your computer will fail, it’s when. It’s statistically true that at some moment of your life, your computer is going to fail. But it’s not just statistics – this has happened to me several times.

2 Don’t open attachments unless you know who sent them to you.

3 You might want to have a couple of hundred dollars handy in case you ever need ransom money. No way has yet been discovered to prevent ransomeware takeovers, or to stop them once a hack has happened.

4 Remember, your smart phone is now another computer you need to back up. Here’s a DIY guide to backing up your Android phone and here are a selection of apps that will do this for you.

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