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How Users Should React When a Virus Encrypts Their Files

Ransomware is an effective way for devious authors to make a fortune; the Cryptolocker virus alone netted its authors over $30 million in ransom payments. Ransomware’s astonishing success makes one thing clear: it’s just a matter of time until a new form arises. However, computer users can take certain steps when a virus encrypts their files. In this guide, users can learn more about ransomware and its various forms.

An Overview of Ransomware

Today’s ransomware is a kind of malware that prevents computer users from getting to their data unless they pay a ransom. Most of these viruses are activated when a user clicks an email link or opens an unsolicited attachment. When used with various phishing techniques, such emails can seem like everyday correspondence from trusted sources.

Recent Ransomware Forms

Ransomware has been around in various incarnations since 1989, and it’s not going away anytime soon. In fact, the problem has grown worse in the past few years because of the prevalence of mobile computing and anonymous online payment sources such as Bitcoin, which make it easier for criminals to slip past law enforcement.

Preparing for Ransomware Attacks

While it’s important to warn users of the dangers of unsolicited email advertisements, even a tech-savvy user can be fooled by a phishing attack. Security software and firewalls are crucial parts of a ransomware protection plan, but they aren’t foolproof.

When prevention methods fail, the most effective way to regain access to sensitive data is through a backup plan with versioning features. Most ransomware affects the latest version of files, and a versioning program allows the user to go back to a date before the system became infected.

Steps to Take During a Ransomware Infection

If a user has a malware prevention strategy that includes a backup plan, they can take the following steps.

  • Stop file sharing as soon as the attack becomes evident.

  • Use antivirus software to find out where the infection occurred. If this isn’t possible, right-click on infected files to find out who made the last changes.

  • Assess the severity of the damage.

  • Remove the malware by deleting infected files.

  • Use a dashboard tool or backup app to recover a clean version of infected files.

While a malware infection can be a big hassle, it doesn’t have to be a disaster. By practicing good email safety and recognizing the signs of a ransomware attack, users can take action before the damage becomes widespread.