A friend of ours lost a computer and all contained on it to a ransomware attack yesterday. Interestingly, a week of so ago an episode of The Good Wife tv show had a law firm attacked by ransomware. If you’re unfamiliar with the term, in this attack the victim’s computer has all its files encrypted by the hacker and all the computer will do is go to a web page that tells how to pay a ransom to get the key to unencrypted the computer files.

Our friend did not know how he was attacked. Generally its done by an opening an infected email or visiting a malicious web site. He was not able to recover with antivirus software, and he took the computer to a technician who said he could not fix it and that he saw several pc’s with the same infection. Our friend had a backup external drive which he leaves connected to his computer all the time and it too was ruined.

It was a Windows 7 pc that was attacked, but we Mac users should not get careless. To minimize risks: Don’t open emails that are not from someone you know and turn off your email client’s option to display the first few lines of emails automatically. Avoid dubious web sites, especially those that offer pirated software or bootleg movies or music. Porno sites are notorious for hosting malware – the only Mac virus infection I have ever personally seen was delivered by a porno site that required installation of a special media viewer, which was the virus carrier. Installing pirated software is an open invitation to trouble. Keep an offline backup that is not connected to your computer when you are not backing up. Mine stays in a safe.