Hidey Ho Scribblers!  J Monkeys here.  This week I want to talk about something important: Ransom.  Not the plot device that throws your characters together, the Mel Gibson movie, nor the very good book by Julie Garwood.  No, I’m talking about ransom-ware. 

This past Monday morning, I was doing my usual routine.  Hubby was in the shower getting ready for work and I was online, trolling for an episode walkthrough of last week’s True Blood.  (I must have my weekly Eric Northman fix!)  All of a sudden, my computer screen blinked off and a new screen came up.  It had a big, scary FBI logo and a square where my webcam was activated, showing a not-terribly-attractive-unwashed-morning version of me.  I read the first line, “This PC has been locked by the Federal Bureau of Investigation for downloading illegal MP3 files, videos, etc.”

Um, I’ve never downloaded an illegal MP3 in my life, in large part because I don’t know how.  Every MP3 file on my PC was bought from iTunes or copied off of CDs I own.  The only videos I ever watch are on YouTube and I’m pretty conservative when it comes to viewing….um…adult content, shall we say. 

So I was pretty quickly convinced that this was some kind of mistake or something.  I told Hubby about it (he’s a techy guy) and he came to look at my screen (while wearing just a towel, I thought I had told him about the webcam…)  Hubby read both the first and second line of the screen and quickly came to a new conclusion.  Line two read, “Pay $200 to the address below in the next 72 hours or your computer will be permanently locked.”

Huh?!  I’m pretty sure the FBI wouldn’t be asking me for $200.  I mean, if I had committed a crime and they were looking for me, wouldn’t they want to arrest me and charge me?  Hubby told me that this is a Ransom-ware virus made to scare people into forking over some cash.

Sadly, it took my very computer savvy husband two nights to get my PC back to normal.  Here’s a link to the directions in case anybody’s curious.  And in that time, I had an epiphany.   The only things that I have backed up on a flash drive are my two completed novels.  I have eight completed books right now and four in the works.  Several of my books have extensive illustrations or research.  And what about my personal stuff, tax returns, resumes, pictures, etc?  I’m going to get it all backed up next week.

This week’s secret: Up to date antivirus software is very important!

This week’s question: Do you have your work backed up somewhere?


15 thoughts on “Ransom”

  1. Ouch! So sorry this happened to you, J, but I’m glad you have a techie-in-residence. I’ve never heard of a Ransom, but personally I hope never to experience one unless I’ve become a historical romance heroine and it’s some hot highwayman (who is really the heir to an earldom) who is holding me hostage! As for backup and stuff, I admit I’ve gotten lazy. I have up to date virus software on my computer and it’s set to run scans pretty frequently. I email things to myself, but not as frequently as I should. And we bought one of those backup storage thangs with terrabytes of memory and cloud storage but, um, haven’t actually hooked it up yet. I’m putting that on the to-do list immediately!

    1. yeah – wicked important. I’d be devastated to lose all my work. I’ve been lazy too, but this was a wake up call.

  2. I’m sorry this happened to you, J. My computer was attacked last month with a virus that took both my husband and Dell a full week to fix. Results they had to wipe my entire computer clean and I had to start over. Luckily I’m anal and back up everyday to four flash drives everything on my computer. Don’t put it on to do list –DO IT NOW!

  3. Ick! I hate very few things in life, but hackers and virus spreaders are on the top of my list. Don’t people have better ways to entertain themselves than screwing with people and trying to extort money? Get another hobby! Or better yet, get a job! It’s maddening and more than a little frightening how easily our world is turned upside down by these Cretans.

    I back up to a flash drive at the end of each work session, but I have an external hard drive that I back up on about once a week. My husband says it’s not good enough just to put it on a flash drive because if your computer gets corrupted it might also corrupt the flash drive. Uggh! It hurts my cerebellum to have to think of crap like that.

    1. Yeah – they can get ya, huh? I’ve emailed stuff to myself and I think I’ll do that again as well as the flash drive. Hubby said something about some kind of auto back up thingy – I had no idea what he was talking about, but hopefully I can get him to set me up.

  4. Crap. I only ever backed up my finished manuscripts. But I should back up all the time. If I lost everything I would die.

    1. I totally hear you. Death might be a little extreme – but not too much! I’d be LOST without stuff like the illustrations which I can’t get back. I could always retype the finished stuff – nightmare but doable. But the stuff in the works, that’s actually worse to lose. I don’t have it printed anywhere…

  5. J, that’s a horror. Glad you had a techie nearby. I have a time capsule that backs up my computer everyday. I just have to remember to plug in this macbook air, that is so light, I carry it around with me everywhere. I also have a PC that gets some of the stuff. I have lost four computers in the past, so I know what disappearing work feels like. i even have hard copies of stuff. Thanks for the reminder.

  6. That really stinks J! My older son’s computer has been “virused” a few times. All I can say is thank goodness for Katy Lee’s brother (who is Mr. Fixit – no, really, he is). He’s made quite a few house calls. And sad to say, even with current virus software, your computer can still get a virus. I wish these people would use their time and energy to do good in the world, like find a cure for cancer or hunger.

  7. wow… that’s horrible, J… I’m so glad you have the best computer techie in the world under your roof!! He is a gem and you are very lucky that you didn’t lose all of your books and other personal items…. Our J was wondering if you now have an automatic backup to a drop box like she was given by said techie?

    computer techie’s mom

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