Ransomware takes your computer hostage

Avatar for cupcakebabe
iVillage Member
Registered: 11-09-2011
Ransomware takes your computer hostage
Wed, 06-18-2014 - 4:08pm

Criminals can now take computers hostage, threatening to wipe out all files if the victims don’t pay up.

No masked men are involved. Instead, the perpetrator is ransomware, viruses that infect computers and demand a ransom of hundreds of dollars to access the files again.

The most famous example is Cryptolocker, a virus that was delivered a serious blow earlier this month when several security firms and the U.S. Department of Justice teamed up to arrest several people allegedly involved in the scam. The FBI identified Evgeniy Mikhailovitch Bogachev, a Russian national whose whereabouts remain a mystery, as the mastermind.

While that threat has been "largely mitigated," there are others ready to take its place, according to Adam Meyers, vice president of intelligence at CrowdStrike — one of the firms that helped nearly take Cryptolocker down.

Just last week, Meyers told NBC News, he purposely infected his computer with Cryptowall to see what would happen. The result: It demanded $500 if he ever wanted to see his files again, and gave him 200 hours to cough up the money in bitcoins. The "ransom" grew to $1,000 once the deadline got closer. (It even had a "help" section with instructions on how to pay). 


This is really kind of scary. I'm not backing up to the cloud, but have multiple external backups. How do you guys protect yourselves? 

Avatar for ubergeek
Community Leader
Registered: 09-23-2010
Thu, 06-19-2014 - 4:15pm

Wow, thanks for sharing! I hadn't heard of this one yet. That's really scary. :( I think I'd rather have a virus that wipes everything out than knowing someone has it and is holding it for ransom. 

I use external drives though I have backed up to the cloud in the past. I've used CrashPlan and Carbonite.

Avatar for khatru1
iVillage Member
Registered: 06-07-2004
Wed, 06-25-2014 - 9:50am

I don't really use the cloud for backing up anything except for using it to share large video files , home movies with relatives. I have external drives in the house to back up everything else.

I'm wondering if it would be possible, if one became infected with some raonsomware like this, to simply remove your hard drive and hook it up to another computer as a secondary drive and thus you would not need to boot up to it, you just access and copy off all your important files to another drive. Thats assuming the infection causes your computer not to boot to windows and doesn't actually somehow encrypt all the files on your drive or something.