How Does Ransomware Affect Computer Users?

ransomwareWhile virtually everyone has heard of ransomware by now, not everyone understands how it threatens even average computer users. Ransomware is malicious software designed to block a computer user’s access to their files. In effect, it freezes the computer, preventing its use. While not everyone stores large quantities of data on their home or office computers, there are still files and programs most people use daily. That means ransomware effectively stops any type of computer activity until it is removed. However, that removal process is not easy.

What happens when a computer is infected with ransomware?

Although there are several variations on the theme, once ransomware has infected a computer, a notice of some type will appear advising the user their data is locked and a fee, or ransom, must be paid before a key to unlock the machine will be provided. Victims are typically told to provide payment to a specific site, often using bitcoin as a payment method.

Should ransomware victims pay the ransom demanded?

Computer security experts recommend victims refuse to pay. However, that can cause problems if important files will be lost if the computer must be reformatted. That leads some victims to pay the ransom demanded even against the advice of industry professionals. Computer users who routinely back up their data are in a better position to simply refuse payment, but typical users do not back up files properly, putting them at risk. Some users elect to pay the ransom rather than lose files, but even if the ransom is paid, a key is not always provided.

Are there ways computer owners can recover their data without paying the ransom?

In some instances, software solutions are available that will allow data to be recovered without paying the ransom, but the effectiveness of that software depends on the type of ransomware present. Victims are advised to contact computer experts to determine if there is a possibility of recovering data using programs like Kickstart or similar offerings.

While ransomware removal is possible in virtually all cases, it’s not always possible to recover data in the process. That’s why it is critical computer owners back up their data to a remote site frequently. If backup files are available to reinstall, the process necessary to get rid of ransomware is simpler, reducing negative consequences for users.

Protect Your Computers

If you want to prevent ransomware in the first place, then you should definitely invest in some quality antivirus software and perhaps an antispyware software solutions as well.  Some programs sneak by the antivirus software because they are actually legitimate programs, however they are malicious.  Sometimes they piggyback with legitimate software as well, and this only increases their threat.  We recommend Norton 360 as well as Spyhunter 4.  These programs should keep most of the bad junk off of your system and help you to improve your chances against identity theft and credit card theft.

If you want to stay up to date on the latest in computer security then I suggest you follow some blogs such as Trend Micro.  This will keep you up to date on what’s going on in the security field.

About the Author

Roger Feinstein has grown up with computers his entire life and strives to help others understand what goes on behind the scenes in their PCs. He's been writing tech articles for websites for over 5 years.

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