(WMC/CONSUMER REPORTS) - Imagine hackers holding your computer files hostage and then demanding money to get them back. It’s called ransomware, and as Consumer Reports found out, even IT experts can be victims.
Raul Glasgow is a computer consultant who is all too familiar with ransomware. Not only has he helped clients whose files were held hostage by hackers, he also had to help himself.
“After like the first attack, I’m like, we’re ready for them,” said Glasgow. “You know, there’s no way they’re gonna get through to us again. Was I wrong.”
Glasgow says he started seeing ransomware attacks against his clients two or three years ago. Since them, he says it’s become even more common.
Jerry Beilinson with Consumer Reporters says victims of ransomware will see a pop-up window on their computer screen.
“It will say, ‘all your files have been locked and to get them back, you’re going to have to pay a ransom’. We suggest that you not click on the window unless you are willing to pay,” said Beilinson.
First, Consumer Reports says to make sure it’s not just a phony pop-up. Close your browser and if it comes back then you may have an issue.
“If you have a recent backup of your data, you probably won’t need to pay the ransom,” said Beilinson. “But if you don’t have recent backup, you very well have to pay the ransom in order to get your files back.”
If you do have a backup, you can transfer your files to a clean computer. Or you may be able to rebuild your system. A computer professional can help with this if you don’t have the skills yourself.
And to make it harder for hackers to gain access to your computer, experts at CR say keep your operating system and all software, including security software, up to date. Even better, turn on automatic updates so you don’t have to think about it.
All Consumer Reports Material Copyright © 2019 Consumer Reports, Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.