These days we are used to getting tons of junk mail. Most of which we just delete or ignore without even a second thought. Spammers and other generally nasty people out there know this, so they have adjusted their tactics.
"It may even come from a
FedEx or UPS email account"
Everyone loves getting packages in the mail. Especially when you cant remember what you've ordered! Its like getting a gift. Or, you are at work, and you receive an email from FedEx telling you that you missed your shipment. Sometimes it will even have a tracking number in the body. It may even come from a FedEx or UPS email account, but that doesn't mean anything these days. Email address spoofing (faking) can be done by just about anyone with a computer and the time to watch a few videos.
"maybe you've been stranded on a trip before
with a lost wallet and know how it feels"
You get an email from a friend, shes in trouble. She goes on to explain how they went to Florida for a road trip and lost her phone and wallet. They go on to explain how they just need a little cash to get a plane ticket and head back to sort this all out. She was even nice enough to provide a link to Western union or the Airline for your convenience.
Without thinking, you click on the tracking link, because you do after all want to make sure UPS tries to deliver it again. Or maybe you've been stranded on a trip before with a lost wallet and know how it feels, so you click the email attachment to send your friend enough money to get home.
"try to open a Word document
or Photo and get an error"
In either case, you have started encrypting (password protecting) all of your media files without even knowing it. Wondering why your antivirus software didn't give you a heads up? In most cases it wont. Those programs compare known virus software patterns to things that are happening in software you click. Things such as behavior, or file names and locations similar to a "Wanted" poster.
Before you know it, you try to open a Word document or a Photo and you get an error. Upon further investigation, you see that you have these new files all over your desktop and folders just like in this image. The person is even nice enough to provide instructions on how to unlock your files, for a fee of course. These are real people, I know this because Ive called them before. Broken English, usually from some foreign country. They will even provide you with an unlocked file of your choice as proof.
So what do you do now?
There is very little to do about this, aside from pay the person for your files. In some cases we've had clients that have done this, and it works. But it is usually very expensive and you have to hurry. Of course you have BEEN supposed to implement your backup solution, but you didn't get around to it (we all do). Most of the time even removing the locked files and adding new ones will only result in the new files being locked.
Today's tip is about recognizing a dangerous email BEFORE its too late. Don't act out of habit when clicking attachments or links. We always advise our friends to call the person that is "sending" you the supposed rescue email just to make sure its really them. We've heard stories from people who have had friends call them and ask them what they are doing in France, when they never even left their house.
Carbonite provides a fair priced online backup service that can keep older versions of file in case your get locked. But we always suggest you calling us to remove the infection before adding more files to you computer.
Be sure to share this article with your friends and family. Pictures are memories, documents are always important once they are lost.
Wanna see how it happens?
Here we have another example of a fake email. This one appears to be from Cox telling the customer that she has email messages that are waiting for her to do some action to let them through. You see the visible CLICK HERE text in the email clearly and feel urged to click it so that your problem is solved. It appears fine, its going to you, its from Cox....but it's actually a "phishing" email. These are used to get information from you by tricking you into thinking you are giving information to someone that already should have it. This is very common and very effective.
Lets test this link! (do not try this at home)
Here is the result of a test click. We do this to verify to our customers that the email is in fact not genuine and is dangerous. Below you will see an example of the Antivirus software detecting and stopping the attack.
This example shows the importance of a maintained and trustworthy antivirus software solution.
Here is a link to a free EBOOK with information regarding Ransomeware and how much it can cost you!