Be Careful Of Malware, Cryptolocker – Take Action Now!
Cryptolocker, a relatively new and rather disgusting virus is currently doing the rounds of the Internet. Known as “ransomware” Cryptolocker will encrypt all important data on an infected machine, then hold your machine to ransom for the decryption key.
What Is Cryptolocker?
Put simply, when your machine is infected with the Cryptolocker virus, it will automatically encrypt all documents on the infected computers hard drive, including any mapped network drives and USB storage. It will then hold the decryption key on an anonymous server on the Internet, at which point you can pay a fee (usually $100) to get the key. If you don’t pay up in a set time (usually 1 hour), then the decryption key is destroyed forever, along with access to all of your documents.
The encryption that is used is extremely strong 2048bit RSA, which means that’s it’s pretty much impossible to crack the encryption. Very. Bad. Times.
How Is Cryptlocker Spread?
It’s usually done via email, or more specifically, as an attachment on an email, posing to be from a legitimate source like UPS, Companies House, and Intuit. As with most virus’ and malware, Cryptolocker is effective only on Windows based machines.
What Can I Do To Stop It?
Reports on the Internet say that a lot of anti-virus software isn’t all that good at picking up Cryptolocker, but any responsible computer owner shouldn’t rely solely on their AV software anyway. By following some basic security procedures, you can mitigate the chances of infection, or, at the very least, protect you data if you do get infected.
- Be vigilant with your emailÂ - If you’re not expecting a package from UPS, or if you don’t deal with Companies House, don’t open the email, and certainly don’t open any attachments. Basically, if you are not 100% sure of the source of the email, or if anything doesn’t look legitimateÂ immediatelyÂ delete the email. If you’re not sure, then Google the company that supposedly sent you the email, find their contact details, and get in touch with them.
- Backup your dataÂ - Simply backing up to a USB hard drive won’t be enough here, as if it’s plugged in to your machine, then it’s contents will be encrypted also. Get an off site backup system like Dropbox or Copy. Both of these tools support versioning, so even if your data is encrypted, you can still restore back to a previous, unencrypted version of your data. If you follow a robust backup routine, then you should be good.
- Install CryptoPreventÂ - Just because your AV isn’t all that good at picking up Cryptolocker, doesn’t mean you’re on your own. There is a tool called CryptoPrevent, a free download that is proven to prevent Cryptolocker from running on Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8, and 8.1. Below is a video on how to use CryptoPevent.
- Use LinuxÂ - The Open Source lover in me had to list this. Linux operating systems like Ubuntu and Elementary OS are great alternatives to Windows that don’t really fall foul to virus’. Here are some great beginner Linux distributionsÂ that you could use for free.
Once you’re infected, it usually too late, so the best course of action for any infection like Cryptolocker, is to try and prevent it from infecting your machine in the first place. If you follow allÂ ofÂ the tips in this article, then you will be in a very good place to combat this awful infection, and many others.
Have you been infected by Cryptolocker, or know someone who has? Please share your stories below…