Ransomware (Feb 2019)

Technology Tips – Published February 2019 in the Guide and Digest

By Don Trauger – Kennett

You may have heard the term but what is it? It’s a specialized form of malware that takes control of your computer and encrypts (locks) your personal files. Unlocking those files requires you to pay the hackers in Bitcoin which is a digital form of currency also known as cryptocurrency. After you pay them, often thousands of dollars of Bitcoins, they may give you the key (password) to unlock the files. To say the least it’s a bad situation.

Ransomware has been around for a long time. This has given anti-virus companies time to improve their detection against Ransomware. For home users detection is comprised of the usual anti-virus methods plus a vaccination applied to your personal Documents, Pictures, and Music folders. Different anti-virus companies may alter the approach of how this accomplished. They embed the protection deep into the Windows operating system but we can easily check to see if it’s working properly.

Click the white icon in the lower left corner of of the screen then click the “gear” icon (second icon above the white icon). This will open the Settings window. Next, click “Update & Security” and click “Windows Security” on the left. At the top click “Open Windows Defender Security Center”. Click “Virus & threat protection”. Scroll to the bottom and look for “Ransomware protection” and “No action needed”. If you see it you are set. If you don’t see it click the little up arrow to the right of “Windows Defender Antivirus options” and turn on “Periodic scanning”. “Ransomware protection” should now appear 1 item above.

The preceding information is based on using another anti-virus such as Bitdefender Free (my choice) or Avast. Other anti-virus programs may have similar results. If using Windows Defender as your only anti-virus program the procedure is slightly different. Click “Ransomware protection” and turn on “Controlled folder access”.

The combination of another antivirus program and enabling “Periodic scanning” is the best protection against ransomware.

Be sure to attend our PC Club meetings on the third Tuesday of each month at 7 PM in the Community Center “A” room. (Construction may change the location). We will cover this topic, update you on the Microsoft Updates issue and answer questions you may have.