Those who have been following my articles and posts on Social Media since 2013 know that I write to inform and educate Uganda.
You all know about malware. The type that you get on your computer and phone and it messes up your internet browser or puts ads on your device.
This new one is deadly. It is called Ransomware.
Like all viruses, it is installed by you visiting a bad site, installing an app on your computer or phone without your knowledge and this usually has to be cleaned up or hijacked by your anti-virus. Please install some anti-virus on your device. All the phones in our family run anti-virus. All the computers run anti-virus. Our home network also runs anti-virus. BUT ransomware can get through them all.
Ransomware gets onto your computer or device and encrypts your data. This one is not the type you can remove easily because of the encryption. It just prevents you from accessing your computer and your files. Read the article I wrote last year on Cloud storage. Mind you even my kids store their assignments and project work in the cloud.
When ransomware gets you, you have to pay in order to get your device back. It does not steal your files or anything. It just prevents you from accessing them and logging onto your computer or other gadget.
The method of payment is Bitcoins. Now tell me how many of you people in Uganda know about Bitcoins or even have an account with Bitcoins to pay. At least I do (well, my 15yr old has had one for a long time).
Here is a small list of what this new virus has done in the world:
- It got onto a hospital network in Ottawa Canada last week taking down 4 computers. To solve the problem, the hospital IT department just wiped the hard drives of those 4 computers and business resumed. Had they not been storing a copy of their data elsewhere, those four computers data would have been gone.
- Last month ransomware was found on an undisclosed number of computers on a hospital in California. There were many computers so the hospital just paid the ransom to the tune of 17,000 in Bitcoins. One Bitcoin can go as high as $400.
- In the past, Ransomware was targeting PCs but recently it has found itself on MacBooks and iPads. Hey, it is a money maker, spread the love.
- The FBI has warned that the threat from Ransomware is real and expected to grow exponentially. At the rate of growth of 3-4 million sent out globally, expect the pain to increase.
Beware. Protect yourself. Protect your files. Protect your business. Knowledge is power.
Never open any files from people you do not know. Even then, do not open any ZIP files or ones that end with EXE. Sadly, Ransomware also comes via videos so be careful who you get videos from and check with them first if they have really opened the video on their computer or mobile phone. I get many videos from Uganda and I open them immediately but it is because I know the people who send them to me.
Information you could use.
Martha Leah Nangalama
The writer has an IT and business background as well as work in Standards and Security. All my opinions are mine and mine alone.