PC PAL Team

PC PAL Team

PC PAL is the UK's award winning Computer, Laptop, Mac & Smartphone support specialists, with experienced, qualified & local Computer Engineers based in your area. We are a name that local people have come to recognise and trust. Please take a moment to read our feedback from our loyal customers, or find your local PC PAL Engineer.
Newsletters, Tips & How-to's 29th November 2013 2916

 

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*** PC PAL Advisory Notice ***
Welcome to the PC PAL November 2013 newsletter.
This month we are dedicating our extended newsletter to send out a warning to our customers as over the last few weeks PC PAL has become aware of a very nasty & sophisticated new breed of virus that could affect you.
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Tell me more about this Virus?

This virus can infect your computer and encrypt (i.e. effectively password 'lock') some or all your documents, photos and other files such as pdf's so that they can't be accessed and you will see a message similar to the following displayed on the left.

This type of virus is called "ransomware", because it holds your data until you pay some money, and if you do as the above message asks you, will be asked to pay money in return for having your data released. The good news is that the virus can be removed, but the bad news is that the encrypted files remain and there currently is no way that we know of to unencrypt the files. 

What is the damage that can be done by this Virus?
 
We have had several calls from customers across the PC PAL network who have succumbed to this virus already. In one instance a small business was infected by the virus and were left with no alternative but to pay the ransom of £250 to get their valuable data back.
 
In another example, a home customer had all their precious family photographs encrypted. Fortunately our diligent PC PAL engineer was able to restore the photographs from a system back up. However, this Virus has evolved and now stops this technique, so recovery by this method may no longer be possible.
 
We have also heard from a company that has lost 10 years’ worth of data, and unfortunately their future is now looking bleak.
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How do they want the 'ransom' paid?
 
Paying the ransom is not easy either as it has to be paid in 'Bitcoin' which is a new digital currency and has to be purchased online through a dealer, by bank transfer. But if the dealer knows you are paying a ransom for this virus, they will not deal with you as it could be construed as money laundering.
How could one inadvertently catch the Virus?
 
This type of virus seems to be spreading through emails or email attachments, so do not open any that you think are suspicious or from someone you don't recognise, as the first thing it will do is disable your AntiVirus protection, then infect your computer.
 
With other viruses in recent years, we have always been able to recover data but this one is different and will probably become more widespread as more criminals realise that they can make a lot of money from it.
What are the best ways to protect myself?
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Strong Security
Always have a strong AntiVirus program on your computer and keep it up to date. We strongly advise avoiding the free or Microsoft provided antivirus products as they only offer a very basic level of security (even Microsoft has admitted this recently. Remember though that no AntiVirus program will stop absolutely everything, but using a strong product goes a long way.
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Regular Backups
Keep regular backups of your data as often as possible. However, if a hard drive or memory stick that is used for backups is left permanently connected to your computer, then it will also have its files encrypted by the virus. So disconnect any backup device when not in use.
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Suspicious Emails or Attachments
When you receive an attachment via an email, double check whether it's from someone you know or from a trusted source. Banks won't usually send emails with attachments, nor will most financial institutions. It's also very unlikely you will be informed via email that you have won the lottery or been left zillions of pounds by a distant relative (common email scams).

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Regular update & housekeeping
Always run a full virus scan a least once a month and check that you have installed the latest security updates from Microsoft and the AntiVirus program. Also keep your PDF reader and Flash software up to date (both are made by Adobe). Please don't assume this will be done automatically by the computer as usually it isn't.
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Keep Vigilant
Just like in the 'real' world, the internet can be a dangerous place with people sometimes surreptitiously trying to extract money or information from you. Always keep a cautious approach when responding to emails, pop-ups or requests to install programs.
 

What are your Recommendations?

BullGuard 2013
 
We can supply and install an excellent British multi award winning Internet security program called BullGuard, which we use ourselves to protect our computers.
 
It's a well respected product which works hard to protect your computer.

 
 
PC PAL Online Backup
We also recommend using our 'PC PAL Secure Online Backup' service which effortlessly keeps a backup of your important files on the internet.
Should you fall victim to this type of virus (or any other catastrophe for that matter), you will be safe in the knowledge that your important files and photos are safely and securely backed up online. 
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We can also install a small program that will stop this type of program installing in the first place even if you mistakenly open an infected attachment/file, this software will also automatically update the protection as this type of ransom-ware evolves.

 
Please contact us to find out further details about our special offer to customers.
 
Remember, if you have any worries or concerns, disconnect from the internet, switch off your computer and contact your local PC PAL Engineer today for advice or a visit.
 
Finally, please pass on this newsletter to any friends, family or colleagues and we would also suggest you visit the following site for more trusted and impartial information about being safe online: http://www.getsafeonline.org/
Stay Safe. Stay Protected.


PC PAL
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PC PAL Team

PC PAL is the UK's award winning Computer, Laptop, Mac & Smartphone support specialists, with experienced, qualified & local Computer Engineers based in your area. We are a name that local people have come to recognise and trust.

Please take a moment to read our feedback from our loyal customers, or find your local PC PAL Engineer.

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