The CryptoLocker ransom-ware infection is without a doubt, one of the worst types of malware that attacks Windows computers that we’ve ever seen. The good news is that the infection is pretty easily removed; the bad news is the damage it does can be catastrophic if you don’t have an offsite backup.
Unlike the widely known FBI virus, which locks your computer to try to con you into paying a fine, CryptoLocker really does hijack all your data and demands a ransom for its return.
One of the most common methods of infection comes as an e-mail attachment that appears as a PDF file from well-known companies such as FedEx, UPS or others.
When you open the rigged file, it jumps into action and starts encrypting all of your data files, including any attached backup drives or network drives that appear as a drive letter on your computer (a major threat to businesses).
There are also reports of infections coming through hacked websites or by those that fall for the long-running ‘You need to update your video player in order to see this video’ scam.
It really doesn’t matter what you have for virus protection, because the bandits trick you into running an executable program, which looks like any other program that a user would choose to use, so your security programs will allow the malicious program to run.
If you have a verified backup that was not connected to your computer at the time of the attack, you can disinfect your computer, restore your system and ignore the ransom demands.
Business owners should be especially concerned as any one employee that falls for this scam can cause all the information on the company’s servers to be encrypted.
To protect yourself, the following steps are essential:
1. Watch out for emails from senders you are not expecting. Do not download any PDF file that you have not requested or are from unknown senders.
2. Be sure you have a good backup of your files. A backup to the cloud is best. If you do not trust cloud backups, you should alternate between two external drives for backing up, one for current back up and one to swap out and disconnect from your computer.
3. Call a reputable computer repair shop if you have any questions about any peculiar behavior of your computer.