Can ransomware impact an external drive?


Can ransomware impact an external drive?

By Leo Notenboom

I’ve read that an external hard drive used for backups should not be left connected to a PC as ransomware can encrypt what is on that as well as what is on the computer. That would seem to be a problem with incremental backups. Can ransomware do this? Does it apply to a full system backup as well as data files? If so, is the only fall back position to disconnect the external hard drive when working and to reconnect it but disconnect it from the internet each night?

In this excerpt from Answercast #89, I look at the possibility that ransomware can infect other drives connected to your computer and hold you at ransom.

Ransomware infecting external drives

So, there’s a lot of concern here – I get that. But, it’s not something I worry about on a daily basis for a couple of different reasons.

So let me answer the question that you asked.

Can ransomware infect external drives?

Can ransomware do this? In other words, can ransomware actually encrypt not only your main machine but your external hard drive at the same time so that you cannot access the information until you pay the ransom for the decryption key.

Can it? Absolutely, yes.

Does it? I’ve actually never heard of ransomware working that way. Ransomware that I’ve encountered has always encrypted only the primary hard drive of the system and sometimes not even all of that. Sometimes they simply encrypt data files or program files or just enough to allow the system to keep running but actually hide your valuable data from you.

So, in short, I don’t really think it’s that big of an issue.

Ransomware is a virus

Now, you called out “ransomware” specifically but I think that this isn’t a problem that is unique to ransomware in any way, shape or form. Ransomware is just malware. It’s just another form of virus. It’s just another form of malware.

What that implies is… can malware do bad things to any of the other drives that are attached to your system?

And the answer there is:.

This post is excerpted with permission from Leo Notenboom.

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5 thoughts on “Can ransomware impact an external drive?”

  1. Richard Palmer

    I have my external hard drive infected. How do I run pcmatic on my D drive the external hard drive?

  2. Cerber ransomware encrypts files on any accessible file shares. It’s ‘smart’ enough to not run in countries like .ru, .ua, .md, but even though the encryption process runs on Win98 they don’t have a way to decrypt it. The decrypt file says you need to upgrade to a newer version of Windows. Solution is to add the Win98 HD as a slave on a WinXP or Win7 system and run decrypt there.

  3. CryptoWall 3.0 infected our controller’s pc AND every mapped network drive on her pc. If the external drive is mapped, it WILL GET INFECTED

  4. Ransomware in particular Cryptolocker has infected my laptop and WD 'MY Passport' used for backups for both Office and Adobe text files. Virus deleted using Malwarebytes, even though I use McAfee which naturally missed the infection and have advised them of such. I refused to pay the ransome of course as god knows how many times the originator would come back.

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