Wednesday, July 2, 2014

IWSG: Ransonware and Backing Up Your Work / Wattpad Wednesdays: Reborn Chapter Four / Smashwords July Sale



It's time for another Insecure Writer's Support Group meeting. IWSG was created by the awesome ninja captain Alex J. Cavanaugh, and you can find out the other members of the group here. A special thanks to July's co-hosts: Krista McLaughlin, Kim Van Sickler, Heather Gardner, and Hart Johnson! 
On June 5th, a writer's worst fear happened to me.

It started out a normal day. I came in, started my work computer, did a bit of work, and then finished my work emails. I had an email from someone in the building about a fax. Thinking that perhaps a fax had come there instead of the library, I clicked on the Dropbox link.

A little later, I opened up my writing folder on my USB drive. Some strange files were showing up in it. I clicked one of my blog tour files.

Nothing.

I clicked on the strange file that had shown up.

I thought I was going to be sick.

I was struck my ransonware. RSA-2048 to be exact. Basically, I had so much time to pay the ransomers for the decryption codes or my files would remain encrypted forever. I started researching rapidly for a solution. Almost every single .doc, .pdf, and .jpeg were affected in my writing folder. I found a way to get rid of the malware, but my files will remain encrypted until someone comes up with a decryption code.

Worst of all, it had been awhile since I'd backed up my work. Like months on one flash drive and a year or more for the other. *gulps*

Taking stock of what I still had, I realized I had lost my newest outline of Reforged, my outlines for Repledged, Remarked, and Redestined, and the first three chapters of Remarked and the first two chapters of Repledged. I'm sure there are other things I'll miss, but those are the worst of what happened.

So I feel lucky. I maybe lost 20,000 words or so of work and a few pictures I'll have to recreate. I've lost time. But I didn't lose anything I couldn't redo. I lucked out.

I'm now backing up my work in multiple places. Every. Single. Day.

It sucks, but we persevere. And I know what I recreate will be even better than the original.

Have you backed up your files today?


Today's the first Wednesday of the month, so it's time to put up another chapter of Reborn on Wattpad. You can click here to start at the beginning or click here for Chapter Four.

By the way, I'm off work for the rest of the week, so I apologize that I'll be slow in commenting back. Have a good Independence Day to those in the States.


Smashwords is having its annual Summer/Winter sale. You can purchase Reborn, Gravity: The Complete Trilogy, and The Nightmare Collection for 50% off their retail prices with coupon code SSW50. The sale ends July 31st.

37 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

That's worse than just malware! Think that's what happened to Feedly a couple weeks ago when they went down.
Hope you'll be able to recreate all of that and ten times better!

Emma Adams said...

Oh no, that's awful! :( I've started backing my work up almost daily thanks to a few scares (two broken laptops and frequent crashes), but I still sometimes lose work when Word shuts down. I'm sure you'll be able to replace it all with something even better! :)

Chemist Ken said...

Thanks for reminder to backup my stuff again. I'd kind of gotten out of the habit. Glad you were able to get out of trouble without too much pain.

Nicole Zoltack said...

That's just awful! I'm so sorry.

Misha Gericke said...

Ugh. I already read this from our group on Facebook, but it still makes me so angry that people can be so mean.

Crystal Collier said...

Good reminder. Thank you. I haven't ever had that experience, but oh my goodness, I'd send my techie husband after the cyber bullies.

Miranda Hardy said...

Talk about a nightmare. I think I'll back up my work tonight as soon as I get home. I don't back up nearly as often as I should.

noonebutabloghead said...

That's awful - I'm in a slightly similar situation in that my laptop has crashed a few days ago, and for the moment I can't get at the files I've got saved on it. Luckily I just backed up my files about a month ago though...

Is paying the ransom a practical option for you? Or going to the police?

Julie Flanders said...

I'm so sorry you got hit by this. Just imagining that experience as you went through your flash drive gives me the chills!

Chrys Fey said...

That is definitely my worst fear. I was never affected by randsomware, but I did once lose two complete novels. Since then, I hadn't worked on them since, so I'm glad your loss wasn't as bad as it could've been, and I hope you can get the decryption code soon.

M Pax said...

I would cry. You took it better than me.

I need to do backup. Sunday is my backup day. Recently my brother also taught me how to back up my website.

Laura Clipson said...

That really is an awful thing to happen, I'm sorry it happened to you. I don't back up my work nearly enough - I think I'm about to start!

cleemckenzie said...

Those are horrible moments, Cherie. Glad you didn't lose more. I now just back up every night and I subscribe to Carbonite. It saves me many sleepless nights.

Editors At Work said...

So awful...I can't imagine what you went through those first few minutes.

Christine Rains said...

I'm still shocked it happened. I'm backing up more now too. I haven't written anything new yet since my last save last week, though. I need my mornings back! =P

Kim Lajevardi said...

That sucks! I use a cheap man's back up - email. Every week or so, I send an attachment of my entire WIP to my gmail. I also have various versions printed out.

Donna Hole said...

Oh no, not another virus to look out for. Maybe I should back up my laptop files. Thanks for the reminder.

Cathy Keaton said...

Wow, I didn't even know something like that could be possible! Ransomware? What the hell is that? I mean, people have no better way to make a living? How much money would you have to pay these losers?

I use Dropbox, too, but I always back up my files on my computer's hard drive and a separate portable hard drive at all times. I learned years ago from getting hit with malware to always back everything up in as many places as possible. Now I know even Dropbox isn't completely safe. :(

I'm so sorry this happened to you, Cherie.... I'm glad you have a good attitude about the whole thing. If I had lost 20k words, I'd be losing it BIG time. I hope you're rewrite will go well!

Lan said...

I'm so sorry this happened to you. People are just disgusting sometimes. I'm glad it wasn't anything that you couldn't replace irrevocably and even more relieved that you didn't have to hand over any money to them.

Stephanie Faris said...

My (brand new) computer is wonky, so I save everything to a USB drive and back it up. Most everything I do for my freelance clients is emailed as soon as I complete it, so it's out there, but my book manuscripts have to be backed up. My flash drive has (so far) been reliable. I noticed when you upgrade to Office 2013, OneDrive is included so you can save everything to the Cloud for free.

Catherine Stine said...

Holy F!!!
Yeah, I've been through that a few times and it feels like the floor just fell out from under you. I backup via email and external HD now. Plus when I am creating new content, I also email the daily doc to my kindle. It's a great way to edit as well.

Loni Townsend said...

Eek! That is no fun. I just backed up my work to Google Drive.

I hope you're able to regain those words quickly, and may they be even better than before!

Loni

Patricia Lynne said...

YIKES! That really sucks. If I were you, I'd be backing everything up daily for a while too. I'd probably be doing it a few times a day just out of paranoia of it happening again.

Rachel Morgan said...

Oh no! No, no, no, no, no!!! That is HORRIBLE! I've never lost THAT MUCH work! I'm so sorry. The only good thing about this is that usually when you have to write something again, it turns out better than the first time :-) When I worked with Word docs, I used to copy them to Dropbox as well as email them to myself every few days. Now I use Scrivener, and Gmail doesn't seem to like to upload those files (don't know if that's just my computer or a common thing!) so now I just backup to Dropbox. (And Scrivener has an automatic backup thing every time you close the program.)

Vanessa Morgan said...

That's horrible. So sorry that had to happen to you.

Rebecca Bradley said...

That is completely awful. I'm so sorry that happened.

Suzanne Sapsed said...

Just mentioned this to my other half and he was aware of it - I've never heard of it! I do back up regularly though - well since my computer crashed and I thought I had lost everything! Scares like that make you ultra-cautious.
Suzanne @ Suzannes-Tribe
xx

D. U. Okonkwo said...

Oh gosh. That happened to me a few years ago! So sorry. Since then I've started to email myself my work, because you just can't trust technology implicitly. That way I always have a copy in my email inbox.

Jack said...

That is so horrible!! I am so sorry that happened to you. Losing even a 100 words is hard. It is just hard to recreate something.

Milo James Fowler said...

Holy crap, Cherie -- I can't imagine how demoralizing that must have been. Didn't Hemingway lose an entire suitcase of his work? Which is to say, you're in good company. It really stinks, but I have faith you will overcome.

Gina Stoneheart said...

Yikes, Cherie... that is the absolute worse! But you are taking it very well and I admire this. I, on the other hand, would have been an absolute emotional mess.
So many viruses out there on the world wide web nowadays. I always back up my files on a USB because I have heard too many stories like yours. Not too mention, that one episode of Sex and the City when Carrie didn't back up her files and lost most of her writing. I'm constantly reminded that these things can happen at any given moment.
Good luck with the rewrites!

Nas said...

Awful that happened. Thanks for the reminder.

Yesterday I opened a word doc from email, worked 5 hours on it and saved then closed. Now I cant find it anywhere. 5 hours work down the drain.

Ellie Garratt said...

That's awful. It's also a timely reminder that you can never back up your work enough. I'm not religious about most of my stuff, but I save any writing I do on a memory stick on a daily basis. It's the one thing I don't want to lose. I go as far as to re-save the previous days work as a new file with days date as the file name. So, if one file gets corrupted, I hopefully can go back to an earlier one. I'm a little paranoid!

Cher Green said...

How awful! Sorry to hear this happened. You work so hard and do so much. This sucks.

Michelle Wallace said...

That sounds horrible! It's just not fair!
Sorry you had to go through all of that, Cherie.

DMS said...

I am so sorry! Thanks for sharing this with us because I have not backed up my files lately. After this crazy weather we are having tonight I will have to back up everything. I wish hackers didn't do things like hold our files ransom.
:(

Good luck rewriting and creating!
~Jess

Medeia Sharif said...

Yikes. I'm so sorry this happened to you. I know someone who was affected by this and he had to take his laptop to a tech, I believe to restore it to factory settings, but at least he didn't have any important files saved on there. I get a lot of spam about faxes, but never open them. Since you were at work, I can see why you'd open it.