Cryptowall Ransomware - WARNING

Cryptowall Ransomware

What is Ransomware?  Ransomware is a virus that infects your machine and renders it useless until you pay the ransom amount.
In most cases it encrypts all files on your computer rendering them inaccessible as well as all connected devices, this includes other computers on your network and backup drives that are attached - this includes cloud drives like Dropbox!
If you are thinking you're safe on a Mac - think again!  Mac computers are also a target of these viruses.

How does it get onto my machine? There are many ways it can be spread but the most common is through an email attachment or link. You may receive an email from someone you know but the email address is wrong, it could even look like a reply from someone you know.  If ever in doubt of an attachment or link, email the person back to the e-mail you know and double check that they've sent you something.
Another way that the virus is spread is by USB drives. You may find a USB laying around outside and wonder what is on it.  Your curiosity may cost you a lot of money!  Never plug in a USB drive that you aren't sure of!

How can I protect against it? Almost all virus protection programs are useless against Ransomware. We sell high end security software that is inexpensive that may afford at least some protection against threats such as these.
Another thing that may help is to always make sure your computer's system software is up to date.
Backup drives are an invaluable help when it comes to these viruses, BUT any attached backup drives at the time of infection, will  be infected and encrypted as well. If you are worried about an infection, ensure that your backup drive is only attached during a backup and then disconnected from your computer and/or network. Another good practice is to have TWO backup drives and keep one offsite (at a different location) and rotate the backup schedule between drives.

Is there a way to recover my data without paying the ransom? In some cases, yes, if it's an older version of the virus we can find a key and unencrypt your data. BUT any attempt to fix your data yourself using a program you find may cause you to lose all your data permanently! There are cases where someone has tried to fix encrypted files and then in the end paid the ransom only to have the terrorists be unable to restore their data. The best thing to do is to bring your computer to us and have us evaluate what version of the virus you have and help you restore your computer.

Will paying the ransom actually work? Yes. Their ultimate goal is getting money out of you.  If the web searches on the virus show that they don't fix your data, no one will pay the ransom, so yes, they do restore your data. In many cases you will need to evaluate if your data is really worth the ransom.  If not, we can completely re-format your computer and set it up like brand new so you can at least continue to use it (without your data).

Is there really a time limit? Yes. When they say you only have ___ amount of time before the price goes up, they aren't kidding. And don't wait until the last minute. You have to set up a Bitcoin account to pay them, which takes time, so when this happens, you need to quickly decide what to do.  Our specialists here can quickly determine the best course of action, even if that means paying the ransom and can then help you set up payment and ensure that your data is restored properly by the terrorists.

There are a couple of things you should NEVER do if your computer is infected:
NEVER try to restore your computer to a previous date - the ransomware has deleted all restore points on your computer.
NEVER try to run tools to fix the encrypted files, it will most likely damage the files beyond repair.
NEVER wait until the last minute to pay the ransom - the price will go up if you wait too long.

The bottom line is - be careful!  Ransomware is run by terrorists holding your data hostage. We are your local experts on Ransomware and other virus infections.  Come and see us for more information on how we can help you.