Ransom ware and me.

Well I supposed that it was bound to happen. It is similar to having unprotected
sex with a prostitute; sooner or later you will get an std. In my case, I admit to being addicted to ebooks, of the ahem, pirate variety. By that I mean that I would visit twice a day that particular site just in the hope of collecting an eBook that I may like. And I often did. Of course the ebooks were hosted by the sites. The site only had links that led to the ebook that was posted.

I felt like a junkie at times; I had the rush of going to an illegal site, of breaking the law and getting a good free of charge. Of course I would say to myself that I would not have bought the book anyways, and that the author did not lose anything by me taking that book. It is hard to assuage a guilty conscience at times such as these. I must say that I had been warned several times by my browser that the site I was visiting was a malicious one. Evil lurked there. I ignored these warnings of course, after all, nothing had happened before so why worry. The few times I had gotten a virus my anti-virus had promptly destroyed it without a hitch. And then it happened.

I was on that site when all of a sudden I saw an FBI logo on the left saying I had done something or other that was illegal. On the main page was a warning to me that my browser had been hijacked and that my files and folders on my computer were now encrypted. I was supposed to wait for more information if I wanted to pay for the key. Somehow I knew that the FBI was not involved in all of this.

I admit that I was astonished. It took me a few seconds before I tried to close my browser but to no effect. I then did the most intelligent thing one can do in such a situation, I got off the internet. I was now in full panic mode. I even closed down my computer.

After five minutes of waiting I opened the computer and sure enough, the administrator page came up and it said the computer was locked. Back into panic mode again. And then I thought, let’s try it and see if I can access the control panel. I could. So my next step was to use system restore and try to restore the computer to how it was a month ago. I was lucky, it worked. My computer seemed back to normal except that when I scanned the computer in safe mode it told me that my files and folders were locked. But in my new time horizon which was for the computer a month before it was fine.

What probably saved me was that this ransom ware virus was of the weak variety, and the fact that within 10 seconds of being infected I had disconnected my computer from the internet. That alone saved me as they did not have enough time to encrypt everything.

The consequence of all this is that I must now use a second computer to do my banking online, and that I am now more paranoid than ever about the internet and viruses. I am better protected now but I am still cautious, surfing only legitimate sites.

It was a good lesson to me, and it cured me of visiting illegal sites for good. I could have paid a hefty price. Luckily, I always do a backup so if system restore had not worked I would have reset the computer to factory settings. But still, it would have been a pain.

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