To pay or not to pay?

by Super User
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Uh-Oh. Your files have been encrypted and you see a ransom note up on your computer screen. So, what next?

Picture this. You're typing away at your computer on a seemingly normal day at home or at the office. Then BAM! You suddenly cannot access any of your files and you see a type of ransom note on you screen. The note goes something like this: "Your data has been encrypted. In order to unlock your data you will need to pay X amount of money."  You begin to panic as your data is being held hostage. Fear is gripping you and you don't know what to do. Of course the first thing that comes to mind is that you need to pay these guys immediately. 

So, now what? How will you get your data back? Will you pay the ransom? Will they even give your data back if you pay? What happens now?

There are a few things you should know to help you out in a situation like this. First of all, try not to panic. Assess the situation and try to find the source computer of the ransomware infection. Take that computer offline immediately. Second, there are certain types of ransomware that are fake. Your files may not really be encrypted at all. Certain types also have decrypting tools out there that people have developed to help you unlock your data for free. Look at the file extensions of your infected data and do some research to find out if the infection you have is fake or if there are decryptor tools that can help. Lastly, check if your company has been backing up data. If that is the case, you can just restore everything from a good backup. If you are a home user and have been keeping backups, this solution will work for you too. 

What do you do when none of the solutions mentioned above are viable options? Do you pay?  Well. We like to tell people NOT to pay the ransom. This just fuels the criminal activity and gives the criminals incentive to continue releasing ransomware because people will pay. They will not stop infecting people if their methods are working. While this may be a tough choice to make, in the end it could help prevent further ransomware attacks. If people stop paying, criminals will no longer use this method of attack because it is not bringing them any income. We understand that in certain situations, you may end up paying. Just know, there is no guarantee that you will get your data back after paying. It is a 50/50 chance. 

In conclusion, we recommend that you avoid paying the ransom. The best way to prevent complications from ransomware is backups. Have good backups and you will not even have to ask yourself if it's worth it to pay a cyber criminal. 



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