Ransomware is malware that gets installed on a computer by way of an operating system exploit, a user clicking on an infected email, website link or popup ad, or from another infected computer on a network. Ransomware scrambles file data so it can't be read or used, then flashes a screen demanding a ransom to be paid to unlock the files. Attempting to reboot/restart the computer or copy the files off to another location doesn't work because the files are encrypted, and without them being unlocked after paying the ransom, they are unusable.
How to protect yourself:
Use the latest Windows operating system that you can. As operating systems age, they become less and less supported by Microsoft and therefore more vulnerable to attacks. WE recommend no older than Windows 7.
Use Windows Update to keep the latest security patches installed. If your computer does not automatically install updates, you should check manually once or twice a month to keep your operating system updated with the latest patches.
Use a good antivirus/anti-malware package. Any security software is better than none. At the very least use Windows Defender which is a free download from Microsoft. Better ones are Kaspersky or ESET. You can find out more aboutKaspersky here, and ESET here.
Do not click on popup ads that says "Viruses Detected", "Your computer needs to be scanned" or similar verbiage. Do not talk to random people calling your on your phone saying they are from Microsoft or that they have detected a virus on your computer. 100% of these are scammers.
Backup your critical data to an external hard drive or a cloud backup service. We recommend IDrive for cloud backup which you can sign up for free by clicking here. We also sell a wide variety of external hard drives at idahocomputersales.com
If you have questions, call a LOCAL computer technician in your area. If you are in the Treasure Valley call us at (208)-472-2800 or stop in our showroom at 4524 W. Overland Road in Boise.