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Ransomware

Apparently it is a myth that eskimos have a vast number of words for snow. Judging from my dictionary of slang there are certain, uh, things, for which English has an almost innumerable ways to allude to but, heading back onto safer ground, there are also other things that attract neologisms and one of those is software.

Software itself is a fairly new word in the grand scheme of things but it has also spawned a whole class of derivatives, like vapourware, malware and spyware. It must be noted that most of these are bad. Vapourware is something you can’t install because it hasn’t been finished or perhaps even started yet but you want the other two examples a long way from any of your computers. Another in this nefarious category is ransomware, which I was reminded of this afternoon when I heard of someone being infected with CTB-Locker.

This is a category of software which, when activated by carelessly opening an email attachment or following a link, encrypts documents your machine has access to including files stored on network drives. If you are well connected, you can trash not just your work but everything shared across your department! You get a warning popping up asking you to pay a fee to get the unlock code; don’t bother as you can’t trust the criminals to come up with the goods and you certainly don’t want to end up on their Christmas card list!

Really the only solution once infected is to disconnect as rapidly as possible, clean up your computer with anti-malware software and restore from backups. You know, those copies of your files which you update on a regular basis. If you are experience a sinking feeling or a sense of guilt, don’t just sit there but backup now. Ransomware is nasty and those backups are all that is going to save your precious data! Once you’ve worked out how to back up often all you then have to do is stay vigilant before clicking on anything. Safe surfing!

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