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Government Can’t Help You Against Ransomware

Even the FBI is admitting, at least temporarily, defeat against ransomware:

The FBI wants companies to know that the Bureau is there for them if they are hacked. But if that hack involves Cryptolocker, Cryptowall or other forms of ransomware, the nation’s top law enforcement agency is warning companies that they may not be able to get their data back without paying a ransom.

“The ransomware is that good,” said Joseph Bonavolonta, the Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s CYBER and Counterintelligence Program in its Boston office.  “To be honest, we often advise people just to pay the ransom.”

Bonavolonta was addressing a gathering of business and technology leaders at the Cyber Security Summit 2015 on Wednesday at Boston’s Back Bay Events Center. He was referring to ransomware programs like Cryptolocker, Cryptowall, Reveton and other malicious programs that encrypt the contents of a victim’s hard drive, as well as other directories accessible from the infected system. The owner is then asked to pay a ransom – often hundreds of dollars – for the key to unencrypt the data.

Ransomware is a type of malware that encrypts the data on your hard drive rendering it useless.  Thin it offers you the key to decrypt your data for an exorbitant fee.

What the FBI is saying here is that it’s OK to negotiate with terrorists.  I disagree.  You can easily protect yourself against ransomware by following these simple steps:

  • Isolate your browser and email clients in a sandbox such as Sandboxie.
  • Be diligent in backing up your data.  Keep that backed up data offline when not in use.

Ransomware is successful because lazy people negotiate with terrorists.   Ransomware exists because people are willing to pay the price.

Instead, treat a ransomware infection like you would a hard drive crash – go get your backups and start from scratch.

Ransomware will become more and more lucrative, then it will hit a peak, then it will die off.  As more lazy people become infected they will finally take responsibility and back up their systems or they will continue to fall victim to these criminals.

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