Imagine walking into your business one day and being unable to access or read any of your files. No matter what you do, every single file on your computer contains a bunch of indecipherable symbols. While you start panicking over the fate of all your files, you notice something alarming. There’s a screen on your computer stating you need to pay money and buy a key to decipher your files. Just when you think it couldn’t get much worse, you notice there’s an active countdown timer threatening if you don’t pay before the timer ends, that key will expire and your files will be destroyed.
Unfortunately, a very serious virus known as CryptoLocker has infected your computer. If you’re not properly prepared, CryptoLocker can cause severe damage to your business and its computers.
What Is Cryptolocker?
CryptoLocker, or Crypto, is a piece of malware known as a ransomware trojan which has a 3-part attack process:
- Crypto secretly infiltrates your computer.
- It encrypts all the files your computer can access, making them impossible to read without a key or cipher.
- It holds your files hostage and demands you pay a ransom to acquire a key that unlocks and decrypts your files.
No files are safe; it infects anything on your hard drive, any shared network drives or folders, any attached USBs or storage devices, and anything stored in the cloud.
How Is CryptoLocker Spread?
The most common ways to get CryptoLocker are through file sharing websites, downloads, phishing emails, and email attachments. For example, email attachments appear to be legitimate *.doc or *.pdf files but in reality, it is a disguised *.exe file. This *.exe file contains a program that automatically runs on your computer once you open it. By opening the attachment, you’ve unknowingly let the virus install itself.
This disguised file is known as a trojan. A trojan is a type of malware that hides its true content, and tricks computer users into thinking that it’s a harmless file. Do you remember the story of the Trojan Horse? Much like the Trojan Horse the Greeks gave to Trojan soldiers, this attachment also contains hidden things that can invade and take down your computer—or business!
The Countdown is On
If the CryptoLocker ransomware screen appears on your computer, you need to:
- Disconnect your computer from the internet immediately.
- Disconnect any USB storage devices, network sharing, and turn off any cloud backup services.
- Turn your computer off immediately.
To fight this virus and other pieces of malware, you need to avoid being like the Trojans! As the saying goes, “Beware of Greeks bearing gifts.” As a rule, you should always be cautious of emails containing links, downloads, or attachments unless they’re from a trusted source. To reduce the risk of your computer being infected you should :
- Update your antivirus software.
- Schedule regular backups of
- Update all other software or applications.
- Avoid suspicious emails.
- Notify others in your office about suspicious emails or activity you’ve seen or noticed.
If you know your backups are up to date and unaffected, you do not have to pay the ransom. However, if you’re not sure, or you don’t have enough time remaining on your countdown clock, you might have to pay. Paying the ransom to get your encryption key doesn’t always guarantee your files will be unlocked. You could spend thousands of dollars and still lose everything.
Could your business afford to pay the hacker’s ransom and possibly unlock everything? Better yet, could your business afford to lose all the files if you don’t pay? If you believe you have the CryptoLocker virus, or you have questions about your cyber security, email scams, or backups, give us a call!
This is a real pop up window displaying the CryptoLocker warning.