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RansomWare Security Bulletin

URGENT Security Bulletin

Spring 2016

Several new ransomware programs have been released this spring.  They are far more powerful and invasive than previous versions.  As of May 2016, no one has created unlock keys for these newer versions and retrieval of the encrypted files requires paying the ransom.

We are reminding everyone to ramp up your vigilance and be sure you follow these procedures diligently to lessen the chances of getting infected with this or other malware.

Keep your Anti-virus programs active and up to date

Email attachments are the most popular way to infect your computer

Have a current backup of the computer on an external drive that remains physically  disconnected from the computer when not in actual use.

Do not let anyone you do not know into your computer,


Use an email program and provider than scans email

Be careful of websites that want you to install and load programs

NOTE:  If you accidentally click on something suspicious turn your computer OFF immediately!

 1 – Keep your Anti-Virus program running and updated.  Any internet access or email activity without an active program opens you for a potential infection.  A free list of the 50 most popular Anti-Virus programs is available by calling or visiting our office.  Currently we are recommending the Kaspersky Anti-Virus and Internet Security programs as among the best available.

 2 – Do your backups regularly on external hard drives.  Use at least one drive but two or more for rotating is best if you have a lot of data that changes regularly.  Store your external drives separately from the computer; do NOT leave the drives plugged in as they will be infected by these viruses.  Windows 7 and newer have a great backup program included in the control panel.

3 – Email attachments have been the most common way of infecting your computer.   NEVER open an attachment unless you are expecting to receive one from the sender.  Be suspicious of emails with attachments even if you recognize the sender.  

Attachments that have a file extension of .EXE, .COM, .BAT, .MSI, .TIP, and .PHP are actually programs designed to run something on your computer.  This type of file can easily carry “time bombs” and destroy your computer.  Very few individuals are programmers, write their own programs and then send them to friends.  However, the people working to spread virus/malware normally do send this type of file.  

Even when navigating the Internet and opening links be aware.  Never open a .com, .exe .bat, or .msi file unless you are expecting to install a program or driver and the file was received from a known safe source.  DO NOT TRUST ANY TECHNICIAN THAT UNEXPECTEDLY  CALLS YOU ON THE PHONE. (Microsoft has published in writing they will NEVER call you unless you already have a case number and are expecting the call.)

 Normal attachments for emails have file extensions such as doc, docx, pdf, xls, xlsx and jpg.  These files are word documents, spreadsheets, photographs, etc.  Set your computer’s operating system (Microsoft XP, 7, 8 10) to show file extensions.  Most email programs will show the FULL file name.

 4 – Be careful about the websites you visit.  When you go to a website, make sure what comes up is what you expected.  Websites can be hijacked.  Does the website have a phone number, address, and other information that allows you to reach them independent of the computer?

 5 - Consider where you have your email hosted as an important first line of defense against unwanted spam, malware and viruses.  Using a provider that filters for spam and viruses is the best option.  GMAIL.COM is a choice for a free email account that does a good job with scanning and filtering email.  

6 – Be cautious when looking up tech support phone numbers or website information on the Internet.  There are many phony websites setup to lure you in and are potential threats to the health of your computer.  They appear to be legitimate but in fact have ways to infect your computer or will try to sell you programs after falsely telling you your computer is infected.   Never give access to your computer to anyone you don’t know!   If you need technical assistance from a manufacturer (ie. Hewlett Packard, Brother), try going to this website for contact information: www.computerhope.com/support.htm.   They have many listings for technical companies’ contact information.  For example, computerhope.com has the REAL phone number for Microsoft.

7 – If someone calls you out of the blue (may tell you they’ve had a report of a technical problem or an error message has been sent to them), IT IS A SCAM.  Under NO CIRCUMSTANCES do you let them into your computer!  DO NOT TRUST ANY “TECHNICIAN” THAT CALLS YOU ON THE PHONE.

Microsoft has published a statement that they will never call on the phone.  If you have a problem and initially contacted Microsoft yourself, they will give you a case number which you are to give them when they do call you back.


Turn off your computer IMMEDIATELY using the Off button or rocker switch on the back of the computer case.  Do NOT move your mouse, click anywhere, close out of programs or attempt to save anything.

If your computer does not start back up correctly, turn it off and call MicroSphere.