In mid-February a California hospital paid $17,000 for ransomware crypto key. That is just one story of how the proliferation of the Crypto Virus is affecting many organizations. It unfortunately has happened to a couple of our clients in the last couple of months. We were able to avoid having those clients pay the ransom because of our Cloud Backup strategy but it still takes time and money in the end to get back to a normal state; not to mention the loss of productivity. We certainly have much better things to do with our time than restoring large amounts of data and reformatting the offenders PCs/laptops. The virus encrypts files so that they cannot be opened.

Signs you have the virus:

  1. You will know if you have this virus if you try to open a file that you had currently been working on and it states this file is encrypted or is an extension that is not able to be opened by this program.
  2. Another way to determine if you have been infected with this virus; you will see a few new files within folders or on your desktop.
    1. There are a couple versions going around but the general files will be a shortcut to a web page, a notepad document, and a picture. All of which will have instructions on how to resolve the issue asking you to pay the ransom.
    2. Sometimes these documents will automatically open upon logging into your computer.

The virus encrypts all of the files on that local PC and then starts to attack various files on the servers that the user has access to.

***If you think you might have the virus, immediately unplug from the network and contact your help desk***

How to prevent getting the virus

All of our customers have various software and hardware applications in place to protect the servers from such threats, but the people making these viruses are moving faster than the software vendors whose job it is to keep these viruses at bay.

  1. If you received an email and you are not sure that it is legitimate it probably is not
    1. There are emails coming out lately having an imbedded Voice Mail message; if your company doesn’t have this capability of having voice mails be delivered as an email or if the format of the email looks different don’t open the email and surely don’t click on any of the links or open the attachments.
    2. Then there are always the FedEx and UPS messages that have a link to open for a package that didn’t reach your destination. If you didn’t send a package why open that email.
    3. Another email we have seen as of late is emails that appear to be from a bank. They will include an attachment asking you to open with information on deposits or money transfers. If you are not expecting an email from a bank or it is not your bank do not open the email.

Bottom line — be SMART. It just takes one person not paying attention and it could cost a lot of time and money to resolve an issue that could have been avoided in the first place.

  1. When surfing on the Internet; be smart there also; READ before you click. Don’t go to untrusted sites.
  2. Downloading programs:
    1. If you download a program make sure you read what you are downloading. Very often now when you go to download a legitimate program other software comes along with it.
      1. For example when you download a Java update; it shows that it is also going to download Chrome and some other toolbars. If you just take a second to read what you are downloading you have the option to deselect those options so they don’t come along with your software.
      2. All it takes is a couple of seconds to read through the download process instead of just clicking Yes and OK to every question that pops up.