Software updates and backups are important!
To avoid losing your important files, for example your photos, you should take backups of your files on a regular basis. For backups, you can use e.g. an external USB hard drive, which you connect to your computer only for doing or restoring backups. A removable hard disk, which costs approximately 50 to 100 euros is a cheap insurance for your data.
Nowadays, backups are no longer done just because of a possible disk failure. Different malicious programs encrypting your files for a ransom are here to stay. For example, “OphionLocker” is ransom-ware that targets Windows computers: If a workstation becomes contaminated, the malicious software will secretly encrypt the files on the hard drives, all attached USB drives and network drives, where-ever the user has access and the rights to edit files. The program encrypts at least these formats:
4fr, accdb, txt, ai, arw, bay, cdr, cer, cr2, eps, eft, indd, mp3, mp4, jpe, jpg, dsi, kdc, xsi, mbd, mdf, mef, mrw, nef, crt, crw, dbf, dcr, der, dng, doc, docm, docx, dwg, dxf, dxg, rwl, srf, wb2, wpd, wps, xlk, nrw, odb, dom, dds, odt, orf, p12, p7b, p7c, pdd, xls, xlsb, xlsm, pef, perm, pfx, ppt, pptm, pptx, psd, pst, ptx, r3d, raf, raw ja rtf.
Finally, all of the data files end up encrypted, including the most common image, video, audio, and office software files. There is no assurance that you can get the files decrypted even if you would agree to pay the ransom. Basically, if you agree to blackmail, you might not just lose your files but also money and at the same time, you would encourage the criminals to continue because you would make their malicious efforts profitable.
You can keep your computer clean from malware if
- you do not install any vague programs or browser plug-ins
- you are careful with e-mail attachments (the most common methods of spreading malware are e-mail attachments and web links in e-mails!)
- always remember to run Microsoft or Apple updates (can be done automatically)
- be sure to keep the utility programs updated (such as Adobe reader, Java, etc.)
- use virus protection or at least Microsoft’s own Defender (Security Essentials)