COMPUTER 101–Ransomware

The Mouse Trap
by Janis Weber

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Most ransomware uses backdoor Trojans, spammers and ad-clickers as the abettors. The malware authors and perpetrators generally send spam emails targeting different groups. The most dangerous thing about ransomware is that no geographical barriers exist that put a limit on the impact it has on internet users. A ransomware that has sourced from America can hit people beyond continents. Also, the scale of operation is diverse, targeting home users, small-medium businesses as well as enterprises. The malware can also spread via external hard-drive devices like USB thumb drives. It can also encrypt a folder saved in the Cloud. So what can you do about it?

Back up your files
If you have the will, you have the way. In this case, the protectors of the web are the ones who have found the way. They have toiled to come up with the following tactics that will help you have the last laugh over such vicious attacks. By keeping all your data stored in a backup file, you will be able to restore any lost file (or for that matter your system) like it never really happened. So, make sure that you back up regularly. You can use an external drive, preferably one that you do not use on your system often, to save your files in.

Filter Your Email
Since malware authors use bulk emails to attack systems, the need to use filters on your email account is paramount. You can set a filter that allows your gateway mail scanner to stop files with extensions. You can also deny the mail server the ability to send or open .EXE files. You can do this using ZIP files or via cloud services. For example, in the case of Gmail, all you have to do is put the search word .EXE in the search box and create a filter using the word (you will find it in the bottom right corner of the dropdown box).

Disable RDP
Ransomware perpetrators often target machines that use Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) to gain remote access to a desktop. Since it can spread via RDP ports, I suggest that you disable RDP if you do not require it. The process of disabling RDP is different for the many versions of Windows. Disable the permission to remote access your computer.

Disconnect From WiFi
There is no embarrassment that you cannot get out of with a presence of mind and protecting your system from ransomware is one of them. In case you run a file before you suspect the presence of malware, then act very quickly and disconnect from the network immediately. This may sound an amateurish move, but a snapped connection may mitigate the damage by obstructing communication between the file and the server before it corrupts your files. However, do not bank a lot on this technique since this is more of a matter of luck. Instead, use it as a last resort.

Takeaway Points
Do not pay the ransom since there is no guarantee that you will regain access to your files. Do not postpone contacting help if you continuously receive suspicious calls. Do not give away sensitive business or personal information through emails or unsolicited phone calls. If you are going to use an open-source WiFi, then I suggest that you use a trustworthy VPN only (Virtual Private Network like ExpressVPN).

Sylvania Senior Center Classes
New classes with be held as soon as the center reopens. Check the SSC newsletter and website for the most current information. Included will be Windows 10 Computers Basics, Facebook, Microsoft Word, Google Docs and iPhone/iPad. If you have a topic and know some folks who are interested, call the Senior Center and ask for Susan Jennelle at 419-885-3913. Limited seating fills fast so call ASAP to reserve a spot. We are considering an Excel Club. Interested? Call the SSC.

I make house calls (I am vaccinated & wear a mask)
I will come to your home or office and help you with almost any predicament including repairs, upgrades and general software or hardware issues. I can be your resident “Geek.” I have an endless amount of patience and knowledge with years of experience. Give me a text or call at 419-290-3570. Do not forget to sign up for my free newsletter at Subscribers will get a copy of this article plus added hints, tips, and trusted/valuable web-links.

Janis Weber, B.A., owner of Ohio Computer Training & Support, is a professional computer adjunct instructor. E-mail any specific questions or comments to
or call her for assistance at 419-318-9112.
Private tutoring and repairs are just a phone call, text or email away.

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