Tech Support: Am I safe against cryptoware and ransomware?

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The most important thing you can do to protect yourself against malware and viruses, is to have multiple backups of your data. Modern day crypto viruses or ransomware can encrypt your data into unreadable files that you can only decrypt with a key that you are ransomed into buying from someone on the dark web. You won’t even know if the key is going to work, or if you will continue to be ransomed for more money. The most recent versions of ransomware will even go as far as to encrypt your backup drive if it is attached to the computer.

Prevention is the best protection; you need an antivirus and antimalware, and they should be the full versions, not the free to use crippled versions. Because virus writers are constantly updating their software to get past antiviruses, there is always a window between new virus/malware being discovered (usually by an end-user left with an encrypted drive and wondering how it got past the antivirus) and the antivirus writers creating an antiviral signature file and sending it to all their subscribers.

Multiple backups to the cloud, and to at least one hard drive that is disconnected after each backup is done, are the best way to protect yourself from this threat. Most cloud subscriptions allow for a retention period of changed or deleted data so you can usually roll back the changes made by the virus. Having an offline backup is really the best thing you can have when, you have just found your computer is infected. Don’t plug your backup in until the computer has been cleaned by a pro.