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An important message for all computer users

Discussion in 'General Chat' started by wmrcomputers, Jun 22, 2016.

  1. wmrcomputers

    wmrcomputers Stafford PC & laptop repair specialist

    Jul 11, 2008
    Likes Received:
    I know some of you probably find these kind of posts from me a bit boring, but these are issues that CAN and DO affect regular computer users - like you - every year... so please try to read through this post even if you choose to disregard what is said by the time you have finished. I'll keep it as short and sweet as I can.

    Firstly I wanted to warn everyone about the Ransomware viruses that are on the increase. Previously they were only known to be as executable files that you may inadvertently download thinking they were for something else. Now, as @Gramaisc brought to my attention a day or two ago, there are new ways of them getting onto your system which are utilising javascript documents. This is even worse, as you won't even see a "Are you sure you want to run this program?" kind of message. They can be attached to emails hidden to appear as PDF attachments and even WORD documents. As always, please please please DO NOT open attachments unless you know who they are from AND you are expecting an attachment from that person (if you are not sure, then phone them and verify before opening the attachment as some can circulate with hacked email accounts and the sender may not have sent you it at all).
    The last time I wrote about these malware attacks was probably many months ago, at which point I think I'd possibly only seen one or two affected customers. In the last 6 months this has risen to about 8. That may not sound all that bad to you, but think about this. That is 8 local people who have completely lost their entire business accounts, lifetime of family photos and videos etc. If you are not one of those who read my last security update, in brief a ransomware encrypts every personal file on your computer before asking for a ransom to decrypt them. The ransoms can be high, increase the longer you leave it and even if paid there is no guarantee that they will really decrypt your files at all. Also, by paying such a ransom you encourage this type of cyber crime to increase - so either way you can't really win. All I will tell you is that a grown man crying on my doorstep because he's lost the only pictures he had of his deceased son / mother etc is NOT NICE.

    Next I wanted to talk about the importance again of backups, which the above certainly reinforces the need of. If you save ANYTHING on a computer that you would NEVER want to lose, then you really should back up. In fact, forget should - I should have said MUST. It's not just viruses either, there are floods, theft, fire, hard drive failure and more than can wipe out your family memories for good.
    Now, previously I used to recommend Livedrive cloud backup, I even acted as a reselling agent. However, I have read reports of one case where Livedrive's claims to be able to allow you to download your data as it was BEFORE a ransomware attack have failed miserably and the user wasn't able to recover a thing. Yesterday I received an email from Carbonite backup (I don't use them but tried them once) saying that due to a possible secuirty issue they have had to reset the password on ALL of their computer accounts - isn't that worrying!?

    So, am I suggesting not to use these cloud backup services? Not so. Just be aware that there are many unknown factors out there to consider so make your own informed decision. I personally make a hard backup (external hard drive) of all my important files around once per month. I will still probably choose to use something like Livedrive as a way of knowing that files I've changed in the last few weeks I could recover that way so that I don't lose my changes and most recently added files. There are pros and cons of all back up methods. If your data matters, choose more than one option. My hard backup will be of no use to me if our home burned to the ground - I'd thank my ar*e for using cloud services too even if it did take me weeks to download everything again. If I only used cloud, then my computer got stolen and there were any issues recovering some data from the cloud, then I'd kick myself up the ar*e for not making a hard back up too.

    I'm not going to tell any of you how or what you should do. This message is purely to make you think about the reality of what can go wrong so that you can make decisions yourself. If one day even a single person eventually thanked me for this post as it prevented them from the inevitable, then the last 15 minutes typing has been worthwhile.

    Good luck, stay safe and THINK AHEAD!


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