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The Word on the Week

Ransomware

“Oooops your files have been encrypted” is the dreaded phrase many received when they opened up their computer this week. Too late to wish you had updated your anti-virus software. The dreaded virus had arrived!
Fortunately it was not as lethal as it first appeared and in the worst case scenario the requested ransom could be paid and in a couple of hours your data unlocked and you are back in business.
The hackers aptly named their device “Wannacry”. It has that effect on the recipient! It is of the hunter variety. This means, once in your computer, it searches for networks along which it can travel contaminating the devices along the way.
In this regard it resembles a human virus which triggers an epidemic where infected people require to be isolated to avoid contaminating their friends. Just as in the case of infectious diseases there is always a remedy. A patch is available but cannot be applied to an infected computer. It first requires to be cleaned then like any wound the patch may be applied.
It is estimated that 1 in 5 Irish business have been affected at one time or another.
Prevention is better than cure so vigilance is required in what you download. Viruses link themselves to attachments so any suspicious document should remain unopened until its authenticity can be verified. Even official looking documents require careful handling as bogus notices containing An Garda Siochana’s badge have also been used to demand payment!
It is also necessary to have a good back-up program to enable you to preserve your files in the event of corruption.
Despite the higher level of sophistication the same old sin of greed provides the motive.
The very name “Ransomware” looks to a ransom payment being made in order to release the programs that have been taken captive.
In a similar vein Jesus offered his life as a ransom, his blood shed on the cross paying the repentant sinners debts and giving them a lesson on humility (St Mark Chapter 10 verses 42/5).
St Peter encouraging the believers reminded them that they were ransomed, redeemed, restored and forgiven from a life of futility and meaninglessness to one of service and significance not by money but by the precious blood of Christ (1 Peter chapter 1 verses 18/19).
Just as the computer needs to be cleaned so do we and by God’s grace we have the means in putting our trust in the blood of Christ (the Bible uses this expression to refer to his sacrificial death) shed on the behalf of others.