General Question

Love_my_doggie's avatar

Have you ever had your computer seized by ransomware?

Asked by Love_my_doggie (10969points) November 13th, 2015

I did, and the experience was horrible.

If this has happened to you, what did you do? Did you pay the exorbitant ransom and hope for the best? Did you find technical ways to fix the problem? Or, did you do like Mindy Kaling’s character on “The Mindy Project” – shriek, throw your computer across the room, and buy a new one?

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14 Answers

elbanditoroso's avatar

It happened to my daughter’s PC. Fortunately we had done a recent backup, so I just reinstalled Windows for her, and then restored from the backup.

Now that I think about it, it also happened to my nephew’s PC – we ended up starting in Safe Mode and deleting a couple of services which were holding is machine hostage.

SQUEEKY2's avatar

That sounds like a bad piece of Malware, or is it a virus??
Did you have Malwarebytes on your PC an what anti virus are you using, guess that is why you should always have important files backed up on a cd, so if this happens you just reinstall the operating system.
Man I like my Mac more and more every freakin day.

Seek's avatar

I saved what I could and then reinstalled my OS with prejudice.

Fortunately I was aware when it happened, so the only total losses were related to my hobby and not terribly important.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

Yes, it was pretty simple to go in and nuke it using a kali linux thumb drive. Do not EVER pay them. There is always a way around it.

zenvelo's avatar

Yes, a few years ago, a Windows laptop I had was taken over. But I was able to get the IT guy here at work to remove it.

Love_my_doggie's avatar

@SQUEEKY2 “That sounds like a bad piece of Malware, or is it a virus??”

It’s an especially nasty form of Malware. Ransomeware adds a suffix to encrypt every file on your computer. So, if your photo collection is on your hard drive, and if you don’t backup, you lose all your photos. The same thing happens to every data file, such as Word, Excel, Access, PowerPoint, PDF, JPG, etc. Also, if you happen to have a CD or flash drive attached to your computer, it, too, has every file encrypted.

Fortunately for me, my brother’s a Software Engineer who’s very good at what he does. He restored my computer to brand-new condition, back to the day when I’d bought it and before I’d started using it. Stubborn traces of the Ransomware still remained, much like zombies, so he found and removed them. Then, I had to reload all my software and install several years of upgrades. Finally, I copied my data files from backup.

This effort took about a week.

I know exactly what I did wrong. I received an email, supposedly from PayPal, that looked legit and even had PayPal’s address on the From line. I stupidly, foolishly opened an attachment, which put the Ransomware on my hard drive. Since then, I’ve had a few fake banks and credit unions try the same trick, but I’m a bit wiser now.

Love_my_doggie's avatar

@ARE_you_kidding_me “Do not EVER pay them.”

That wasn’t even an option or consideration for me. There are too many horror stories about people coughing up $500 – $1,000, only to have the encryptions remain permanently. Also, even if the “kidnapper” does release the files, it would be too unsettling to know that some nefarious person had accessed my computer and could do so again.

My own experience involved CryptoLocker, which is among the nastiest versions of Ransomware. The U.S. Department of Justice supposedly isolated and stopped CryptoLocker last year, but such things eventually reappear.

Apparently_Im_The_Grumpy_One's avatar

@Seek
Your answer made me laugh. I saw you as the terminator – clicking next – with prejudice.

@Love_my_doggie
I’ve never heard of ransomware. But a good practice I’ve picked up over the years is to keep all of my important stuff on a separate drive from the operating system. That way when the inevitable re-install happens. I lose nothing.

jerv's avatar

No, and it’d be a little tricky to considering how my system is set up. Long story short, it’d probably take me an hour tops to restore my system fully in the unlikely event that such a thing found it’s way onto my system in the first place and managed to nail every partition (even the unmounted ones) on every drive.

filmfann's avatar

Twice. Both times required buying new computers.

jerv's avatar

@filmfann Ouch! You didn’t have a geek friend who could fix it for less than the cost of a new system?

Vincentt's avatar

@elbanditoroso Wow, that much be the only story ever where someone made a backup before rather than after everything went awry – good job!

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

I must have never encountered it because i have no idea what it does.

Coloma's avatar

No, but, I just had some Malware issues that a friend cleaned up. My laptop is getting old, it is 7 now and I am going to get a new Chromebook soon, but, for now, we’re soldiering on. I have the free version of AVG but I paid for software forever and now that I am poor things just have to be handled in the moment. My daughters boyfriend is an IT pro. so I get lots of free help.
I am also lucky that I have never experienced identity theft, something, that more than a few people I know have. A complete nightmare.

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