Ransomware is on the Rise – What to Know

There are many different types of malicious threats out there: viruses, scareware, backdoors, worms, and ransomware. To learn more about all of them, check out our “Virus Lab” here. Today, we want to focus on ransomware, because it’s on the rise – and it’s scary! Keep reading to learn more.

What is ransomware?

Ransomware is an umbrella term for a group of viruses that hold valuable information hostage– either by encrypting your data so that it is unreadable or by totally locking you out of your computer.

Ransomware gets its name due to its general nature – it threatens harm by keeping your personal data captive, and demands a financial ransom in return. Unfortunately, once a computer has been infected with ransomware, there is little anyone– even the F.B.I. — can do to restore the files.

According to IBM Security’s 2021 Cost of a Data Breach Report, the average cost for a data breach in the U.S. in 2021 is $9.05 million, up from $8.64 million in 2020.

The colonial pipeline ransomware attack is one of the largest to date

Ransomware Attacks in 2021

2021 saw some of the biggest ransomware attacks of all time. Namely the JBS ransomware attack which resulted in massive food supply chain disruptions, the attack on the Colonial Pipeline that disrupted gas and oil supply chains, and countless others resulting in some of the highest payments of all time. According to the National Security Agency, ransomware will be a formidable threat for the foreseeable future.

Biggest Ransomware Families

The three biggest ransomware families are Dharma, GandCrab, and Ryuk. And there continues to be the discovery of new ransomware families all the time that use innovative techniques to target computer users.

Dharma, which makes changes by infecting computer files and adding extensions to them, has been in operation since 2016 and continues to infect computers, causing damages to files making them unable to be decrypted.

The GandCrab ransomware infects computers by dropping a “GandCrab.exe” file. It also encrypts your files – locking them up and making them inaccessible to the computer owner.

The Ryuk ransomware is known for targeting newspaper printing services in the United States. The ransomware is likely the work of a cybercrime organization instead of a targeted attack created by a specific nation-state.

An image of a computer locked by ransomware and a user paying a cyber criminal to get access to their computer and files again.
Ransomware viruses lock up your computer and make them inaccessible to you.

New Ransomware

A disturbing new ransomware family that has emerged is the Anatova family. This ransomware usually uses the icon of a game or application, making it appealing to users who are more likely to click on it thinking it’s a fun computer game.

The Anatova ransomware also adapts very quickly, spreads easily amongst computers, and is very difficult to remove via anti-ransomware tools and methods.

In fact, the files and data locked by Anatova cannot be restored without paying the group behind Anatova, even if you try to use a generic decryption tool to try to unlock it. This makes it more important for computer users to create regular backup copies of their computer files.

The FixMeStick is an excellent way to keep your computer free of viruses, including ransomware.

What should you do?

  1. Have an antivirus installed on your computer and keep it updated – while it’s not a cure-all or silver bullet, it remains a very good practice and will prevent many forms of infections from getting onto your computer in the first place. If you don’t already have an antivirus, we use McAfee Total Protection and share our discount with our customers. You can learn more about McAfee here.
  2. Run regular FixMeStick scans – new viruses can get past your antivirus and then can be very difficult to find and/or remove. Don’t let Ransomware get a hold in your computer. Make sure to remove it BEFORE it encrypts your files. To do this run regular FixMeStick scans. We recommend at least once a month.

Have a question? Leave it in the comments below!


  1. Anonymous -

    My old FixMeStick will not do an automated scan. I don’t understand how to do a manual scan, and I would prefer to buy a newer version. How can I do that, and what would it cost?
    Thank you,
    Judy H.

    • FixMeStick/StartMeStick -

      Hi Judy! Thanks for contacting us. We’re so sorry to hear you are having trouble starting a scan. The FixMeStick support team can help resolve this issue! You can contact them HERE or by emailing support@fixmestick.com.

  2. Anonymous -

    I love the fix me stick, it has definitely worked for me. I had a laptop that had 40,000 viruses, I followed the directions and it restored my laptop. I use it for all my computers. Thanks fix me stick!

    • FixMeStick/StartMeStick -

      Wow! We’re happy to help keep your computer virus-free and secure. Thanks for being a FixMeFan!

  3. Jean -

    I so much appreciate your reminding me to run my fix me stick, since I do forget sometimes.

    • FixMeStick/StartMeStick -

      No problem Jean 🙂 If you ever run into any issues or have any questions, we’re here to help!

  4. Kathleen Fradette -

    I bought a Start Me Stick. I could not get it to work, and now I have lost it. Can I get another one? (without paying again?)

    • FixMeStick/StartMeStick -

      Hi Kathleen! Thanks for contacting us- if your subscription is still active, you can receive a free or discounted new StartMeStick. Our support team will be happy to check out your subscription status, you can contact them here: https://www.fixmestick.com/contact/

  5. sylvia -

    I too k my computer in for service to Netforce providers here. Service person recommended Malbyteware, a better, rounded protection-tool than McAfee or Norton. He added Netforce business also uses Malbyteware and recommended it but it is my choice to subscribe. He cautioned should I subscribe to Malbyteware, I should not use other tools, otherwise one will cancel out the other.
    so, for a year now, I’ve not used FMS, following his caution of cancellation.
    I need your advice on Netforce’s comments. Thank you.

    • FixMeStick/StartMeStick -

      Hi Sylvia,
      Thank you for being a FixMeStick customer.
      Luckily, you can still use your FixMeStick in conjunction with a virus protection tool. Antivirus software (for example Malwarebytes, Norton, McAfee, Netforce) scan your computer for viruses while your system is running. The FixMeStick however, scans the computer while the system is off. This allows the FixMeStick to find any malware that slipped through the cracks and went undetected by your Antivirus software.
      For this reason, we recommend running a FixMeStick scan in conjunction with your Antivirus software.
      Please contact us at support@fixmestick.com if you have any other questions, or require further assistance.
      All the best,
      The FixMeStick Team

  6. sylvia -

    Can FMS set up reminders to run stick; I want to run FMS weekly and on a Sunday.

    • FixMeStick/StartMeStick -

      Hi Sylvia,
      Unfortunately, we do not send out reminders monthly or weekly. Our system will automatically send out a reminder if you do not use your FixMeStick for several months. We recommend running a FixMeStick scan once a month!
      All the best,
      The FixMeStick Team

  7. Diz -

    Hello & Belated Merry Christmas, Happy and Prosperous New Year,
    One of my computers was infected a couple of months ago and I could not fix it. I bought the FixMeStick and tried it, and I was able to get my second computer to run. Question: is there a virus that can infect a computer via the telephone? I was using my computer to charge my phone, and the only thing that made sense to me was that the phone infected my computer. I was getting a lot of possible scam phone calls and I was advised to block them, and I have. I quarantined one of my cell phones and terminated service until I buy a new cell phone and get a new number. Am I way, way, way out in left field in addressing this threat or do I have legitimate concerns.
    Thank you,

    • FixMeStick/StartMeStick -

      Hi Diz,
      Thank you for being a FixMeStick customer.
      It is unlikely for a smartphone to infect the computer with a virus because the phone and computer both run different operating systems. However, it is possible for the phone to have Adware, or other grey-ware attached to the browser which can then be transferred to the computer’s browser. This, however, is also very uncommon.
      I would recommend deleting any unwanted or suspicious apps off of the phone and then running another FixMeStick scan on your computer to make sure it is clean of viruses.
      If you have any other questions please contact our customer support team at support@fixmestick.com.
      All the best,
      The FixMeStick Team

  8. Roswitha Hof -

    Thank you all for the Fix me stick and I have the Start me Stick too!
    And l like that you remind me on e in a while to a an! I am making a habit out of it now✌️.I have an Antivirus software in my Desktop it is the Norton 360 that had been put in when I purchased the Computer
    Thank you for the good work!

    • FixMeStick/StartMeStick -

      Hi Roswitha,
      Thank you for being a FixMeStick customer. We really appreciate your positive feedback! We’re so glad to hear that FixMeStick has been helping your computer, and is now a part of your cybersecurity routine.
      All the best,
      The FixMeStick Team

  9. Katie -

    I have an old fixmestick which is good for life on 3 computers. I’ve run it on my desktop computer in the past and never had a problem…I love and rely on it! But now I’ve switched to a laptop, which doesn’t have an ethernet port. Customer service had emailed me instructions on how to run fixmestick manually from the boot drive, but I’m “technologically challenged” and can’t figure it out. How can I get this to run now?

    • FixMeStick/StartMeStick -

      Hi Katie,
      Thank you for being a FixMeStick customer. Please contact our customer support team at https://support.fixmestick.com/hc/
      We offer live chat from 10am-6pm EST, Monday – Friday, where one of our support agents can walk you through the process step by step.
      The FixMeStick Team

Comments are closed.