Using SkyDrive this holiday season can help protect your personal information

It’s no surprise that the holidays are one of the busiest times of the year for online shopping.  But did you know it’s also one of the busiest times for uploading pictures to photo sharing and social media sites?  On average, more than 250 million photos per day were uploaded to Facebook alone during October, November and December of 2011.

That only includes the number of photos uploaded online, it doesn’t take into consideration, the photos being stored on personal devices and computers.  This number only continues to grow.

Think about all those special get-togethers with family and friends that we capture and store on our devices. Now imagine, all of those precious moments in time, being locked and held for ransom.  Well that’s exactly what’s happening with an emerging type of malware scheme known as ransomware.

Ransomware is a type of malware designed to infiltrate your computer and hold your files (photos, documents, reports, etc.) hostage until you pay the demanded amount of money to a cybercriminal.  These files are being held ransom for money in some cases as much as $500.  And paying the money doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get your files back.

According to the recently published Microsoft Security Intelligence Report volume 15, ransomware is on the rise.    So what does it look like? 

Ransomware often masquerades as an official-looking warning from a well-known law enforcement agency, such as the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) or the Metropolitan Police Service of London.  It can look like a pop-up, accusing you of committing a computer-related crime, or a locked screen requiring a password.  If you see these indicators, don’t pay the ransom.  It’s most likely the latest scam created by cybercriminals to try and extort money.

One of the best ways to protect your files is to back them up using a removable drive or a cloud service like SkyDrive.

In addition to backing up your files, there are best practices that can help prevent ransomware from infecting your computer: 

  • Keep all software installed up to date. 
  • Use modern software that provides the latest security technologies and protections.
  • Install and use an up-to-date, real time anti-malware solution from a vendor you trust. Some anti-malware software options are available on Microsoft’s security partner webpage.
  • Don’t click on links or open attachments from untrusted sources.

You can also visit What is ransomware? for more information about ransomware and how computer users can avoid being taken advantage of by these threats.   For additional guidance, regularly check our Safety & Security Center, where all of our tools and materials are available, including our Digital Citizenship in Action Toolkit. “Like” our page on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter.  Get proactive and get involved – in online safety.  

About the Author
Eve Blakemore

Group Manager, Trustworthy Computing

Eve Blakemore is a Group Manager for Trustworthy Computing who delivers consumer guidance around the latest trends in security and privacy. Eve joined Microsoft in 1998 and has worked in corporate and field roles with Microsoft Learning, US Public Sector, Read more »

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  1. Anonymous

    Some of the ransomware is reportedly encrypting files on people's local network storage as well. If the files are encrypted on the local skydrive folders, won't the be encrypted on the cloud drive too?

  2. Anonymous

    I have had repeated calls (land line!!) from "Microsoft", telling me that there is a problem with my computer's "registry", and that I just need to open my registry while this person is on the phone and change a few characters so that my computer "stops alerting Microsoft". Although I have been trying to get information from the caller, he is a slimy *** who could easily cause problems for someone more compliant than me. He has used different phone numbers, but yesterday the call came from (619) 202 6778.

  3. Anonymous

    I second David's question – I have read that this is what happens with DropBox, how are SkyDrive and SkyDrive Pro protected against this behaviour?

  4. Anonymous

    I use secure systems, systems that install binaries from trusted place, each of which are opensource software.

    Since 2000 I had exactly zero identity thefts and infections.

    Linux owns.

  5. Anonymous

    In Greece, same thing happened to some of my clients, a pop up coming supposedly from the Greek Police, saying that the user has commited a crime of child pornography (Greeks consider this the most hideous crime) so that the simple user would click straight away the "pay 150euro (190 USD-ish).

    Cleaning those computers was kinda tricky but on 90% of the situations i had, i managed to clean them without formatting. However i never had any occasion where personal files were encrypted or lost in any way.

  6. Anonymous

    i use dropbox how can i protect my files?

  7. Anonymous

    If you use a cloud service  you are safe… this only affects your HDD and any mapped HDD's on your local network

  8. Anonymous

    had this happen twice…just restart your system to an earlier date. works just fine afterwards


    @yourdaddy45 this wont work.. System restore points will be deleted upon installing ransomeware..

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