Reader's View: Don’t open attachments from unknown senders
My computer was attacked the morning of Jan. 26 by somebody whose native language apparently was not English. A virus encrypted many if not most of the files on the computer. It left a screen of instructions. They basically said I could buy a pro...
My computer was attacked the morning of Jan. 26 by somebody whose native language apparently was not English. A virus encrypted many if not most of the files on the computer. It left a screen of instructions. They basically said I could buy a program that would restore my files if I followed their instructions precisely and that if I tried to do anything else to fix them they would become forever lost. Oh sure, I’m to buy a program that might turn my computer into a slave of some unknown crook somewhere!
I called my computer-guru neighbor Josh, a real professional. He said there was no way to recover the data. He said some have tried paying, which must be in some sort of untraceable international currency, and then they don’t get answers. He said even the Air Force is fighting with this virus.
By late morning the computer still worked and webmail was OK, folder names were OK, but files inside were encrypted. Pictures may be OK, but I’m not sure. I stuck in a thumb drive to get a copy of the screen and it also wound up partly infected, although I got the picture.
The computer had been in sleep mode since morning, and Josh said damage takes time and could continue even in sleep. On his advice, I pulled the power supply and battery and took it to him. He will copy the hard drive in a way that cannot carry the infection and see what can be saved. Then, he said, he would completely reformat the drive.
Josh said I almost certainly got the virus from opening an email attachment. I vaguely recalled opening an innocuous-seeming attachment and shortly dumping it.
Never open email attachments from people you don’t know. It may be an attack.