Fort Lewis College was impacted by this malware in 2016 and we expect to see more of it this year. Ransomware is a particularly nasty computer virus that encrypts the files on your computer and networked drives, making them unreadable. If you decide to pay the ransom fee to the criminals, they may or may not unlock your files.
Web links that harbor ransomware are being spread through social media sites and web-based instant messaging. Web pop-up windows with messages like "Your computer has been infected, click here to resolve the issue" can actually enable the malware to be installed when clicked, even when you click "Cancel" or the "x" to close the window.
To avoid ransomware:
Be wary of email attachments. Ransomware often comes disguised as an email attachment. Do not open compressed (.zip) and Word (.doc) email attachments unless you are 100% sure they are legitimate. Even if you know the sender, if they do not look correct, do not open them. Contact the sender to make sure they actually sent it to you.
Be wary of links and images sent via social media and messaging. Avoid clicking on links, images, and files sent via social media messages and chats. Social media accounts are often compromised and are actively used by criminals to spread malware.
If your system does get compromised by ransomware, the best way to recover is to have backups of your important files. Store your important files on your "M" or "O" drive. Those drives are automatically backed up everyday!