By Tom Brown, Owner
First Computer Services
For several years now, unethical people and organizations have been using various methods of trying to extort people out of money that they don’t need to spend. Most of us have probably seen a window that pops up claiming that there are problems with your computer and demanding that you call a certain toll-free number to get it resolved. Sometimes it’s an unsolicited telephone call from someone with a strange accent claiming to be from “Windows Support” or from “Microsoft.”
Please understand that Microsoft doesn’t call you. And if you feel that you need to talk to Microsoft about a problem you’re experiencing with your Windows computer, just hold that thought. Microsoft probably won’t fix your particular problem, and they won’t offer you any support without a significant fee. Don’t search for “Microsoft’s phone number;” you will just get a list of phone numbers that the scammers are hoping you will call so they can get you to let them into your computer and into your wallet.
“Scareware,” as I have said, has been around for years. But true “Ransomware” is a whole different ballgame. Open the wrong email attachment, visit the wrong website, click on the wrong ad, and you could be a victim. This malware actually spreads through your computer–and your whole network, if you have one–and encrypts all of your data. You will never have access to your data without paying the ransom.
This article provides further information, what to look for, and how to avoid being a victim. But the most important lesson to take away from this is to back up your system(s) thoroughly and often! If you’re a victim of Ransomware, you will need all those backups.