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Question of the Month – June

Question: What’s the Danger with Encrypted Malware Files?

After ransomware attacks, some computer users may be keeping encrypted malware files on their systems. Certain bugs were used to attack hard drives and encrypt photographs and documents, demanding a ransom to unlock the encrypted files. Users have sometimes refused to pay the ransom (quite rightly, as this could lead to many further problems) but have held onto the encrypted files in the hope that someday a fix will be provided allowing them to recover their lost files.

The encrypted files themselves do not pose a danger to a computer, and they can be backed up just like any other file. However, it’s very important to use effective security software to make sure that the ransomware is completely deleted from your hard drive, and then set it up to prevent a recurrence.

Some companies, e.g. Emsisoft, are now offering software that could potentially recover some of the malware encrypted files, so there may be some hope for users who have lost irreplaceable photographs or documents in such attacks.

As always, the best way of protecting yourself against this form of attack is, firstly, to have effective up-to-date security software running on your computer, and secondly to make sure that all your precious data is backed up to the cloud or other external data storage device; then if the files on your computer become encrypted you can simply delete them and replace them with the copies you were holding elsewhere.