What Is Ransomware and How Do You Stop It?

Posted October 20, 2016

Ransomware from Sophos on Vimeo.

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Ransomware is nasty stuff. It allows hackers to hold your computer hostage until you pay their ransom. Often called CryptoLocker, CryptoDefense or CryptoWall, ransomware is a family of malware that takes files on a computer or network storage, encrypts them, and then extorts money to unlock the files. You often have to pay it Bitcoins, and in amounts usually ranging from $200-$500. Ouch! It gets worse. Most ransomware can’t be decrypted without help from the hackers. Refuse to pay and you probably won’t ever see your files again. If you do pay there’s no guarantee they’ll unlock your computer.

So how does your computer get infected with ransomware? Often times it’ll come embedded in an email attachment like a Microsoft Word document or JPEG (image) file. You can also pick up ransomware by simply visiting the wrong website.

Here are three steps on taking the fear of ransomware out of your life.

  1. Don't open or click on suspicious attachments or links in emails. Learn all about email safety here.
  2. Install a quality antivirus program We recommend Sophos Home combined with HitmanPro.Alert. Sophos Home can prevent ransomware coming in from the web. HitmanPro.Alert can stop ransomware on your computer from running and remove it without damaging your files.
  3. Back up your computer. If ransomware takes hold of your computer, you can wipe your computer clean (including the ransomware), then restore it from a recent backup.

Ransomware is one of the most painful and prevalent types of malware out there. Make sure you’re protected.

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