I’ve told you a lot recently about ransomware attacks. Ransomware refers to malware that encrypts your files and demands that you transfer money to the hackers to unlock them. Everyone from home users to power companies to hospitals have been hit. Some do choose to pay the ransom to have the files unlocked, but that’s not really a good idea. A reader had a good question: “If I was hit with ransomware and was asked to pay a huge amount of money, could I just trash my computer and buy a new one?”
Not necessarily, though that does end up happening. First, let’s assume that you are well-prepared for a catastrophe and have all of your important files backed up somewhere else. They’re either on an external drive, in the cloud, or both. Because that step can take a lot of the panic out of the situation. It gives you some time to consider your next move. Especially, if you’ve been hit by the kind of ransomware that starts deleting your files if you don’t pay.
If you consider yourself a tech-minded person, you might try to get onto the PC in safe mode and do a system restore or a factory reset. Though your best bet is to take it to a tech professional and let him or her try cleaning it up for you. At this point, your software may be trashed, but your hardware isn’t damaged. Even if you lose files, you could still return your PC to working order and restore your working files. In a worst-case-scenario, you could even replace the hard drive and start over.
Whether or not the effort is worth it would depend on the age of a PC. If your computer is on its last legs anyway, it might be a good time to upgrade. If it’s a newer model, it’s worth the effort and expense.
As always, your best cure is prevention. Make sure that all of your files are backed up and be very careful about the websites you visit or the attachments you click.