Ransomware: Coming to a Computer Near You

Using our office computer, I logged onto the website of our town’s surgical group.  I got what I thought was a weird dialog about running cookies and I clicked out of it. Suddenly the browser started acting odd and then normalized. In a few minutes, the problem became clear.  Malware was on my machine.

This one was evil.

My peripherals stopped working and then came the inevitable dialog.  My files were corrupted and if I just clicked the “clean” button, all would be well…. After I paid some money.

But, I was ready.  Ransomware has been my perpetual computer fear.In earlier versions of Windows, Malware was more common.  Even after being warned, my staff tended to click on sites which added junkware onto the system.  I grew weary of doing reinstalls.

The process taught me several things:

  • Store all your files in the secured cloud.  No local personal files means there is nothing to corrupt or become compromised.
  • Run your EMR in the secured cloud.  (We use Elation Health.)
  • Run only the most basic of programs on your PC.
  • Back-up, back-up, back-up.  Use two cloud providers and maybe even throw your cloud files onto an external drive.

I also received advice many years ago about office servers:  DON’T USE ONE!!!

The bottom line:

Be prepared to literally throw your laptop/PC into the garbage if it displeases you.

In this case, I did the electronic equivalent.  I used Microsoft’s Windows 10 “Reset this PC” recovery option. It wipes out your harddrive and gives you a fresh version of Windows.   It was a bit tricky because the malware tried to block me.  Dell has an option where you can do this via the BIOS.

Once you do the refresh, you install your printers and the handful of programs necessary to run your computer.  Again, keep it minimal.In 90 minutes, I was back up and running again with a fresh OS and all the necessary drivers.

BOOM! TAKE THAT YOU EVIL RANSOMWARE THIEVES!!!    Yet, I’m still angry.  With simple basic web browsing to reputable sites, a PC running a fully updated and patched Windows 10 with a fully updated Chrome Browser quickly acquired a deadly program.

Hello?  Security?  Really?

We are so doomed!

An interesting article describes the future of RansomWare:  It’s booming because people are paying!

Not me!

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