Normally this website helps people with using their TNG family tree application. However, there is a new and vicious malware infection going around the world. You may have heard of it: a ransomware infection that can block your own computer access and hold you for ransom. There are some simple steps you can take to prevent such a calamity from falling on you. If you want to know more about the infection itself, check any online news feed for details. So far, at least 200,000 computers have reportedly been infected.

What can you do for protection?

  • Make sure your computer’s operating system and anti-virus protection application are up-to-date with the most recent releases and patches.
  • If you have not been doing regular backups of your files, now is a good time to start.
  • Do not open any emails that appear to be suspect.  Just delete.
  • If you do open any emails that turn out to be bogus or suspicious. then definitely do not open any attachments or click on any links.  Just delete.

The malware only attacks computers running the Microsoft operating system: Windows XP, Vista, Win 7 and up.  Because of the global spread of the virus, Microsoft has taken the unusual step of releasing security patches on legacy operating systems: Win XP and Win Vista.  Please update.

If you have your computer set to automatically update your operating system and anti-virus utility, you should be safe.  If you rely on a manual update, please do it now, not later.  Once the infection gets into your compute, it is too late.

Not all anti-virus utilities can protect you from this ransomware.  Check the internet for reviews on whether your utility includes malware and ransomware protection.

Do regular backups.  There are many cost-effective computer backup devices available these days.  It is not enough to just copy your precious genealogy files into another file area on the same computer.  Either use a physical backup device (even floppy discs, if you have to) or use a cloud-based storage service, if you are comfortable with that.  If you use a physical backup device, such as an external hard drive, then unplug it from the computer in between backup schedules, or at least have a separate extra backup device that can be removed and stored elswhere.  The malware will try to infect anything connected to the infected computer.

If you do get infected by this vicious computer hack, the security experts are recommending that you NOT pay the ransom.  There is no guarantee that this will restore your computer to normal.  Rather, take it to an antivirus service shop.  They will likely wipe out all contents on your hard drive, or even replace the hard drive, then re-install your clean files from your backup service/device.

Please do not panic.  If you have been doing regular operating system and antivirus utility updates, you are safe, according to the experts.  So, just check for your last update, make sure that your security utilities are running, and carry on with your family research.