While one of the earliest widespread sightings was in the fall of 2013, the CryptoLocker virus is evolving and is still infecting computers across the globe.  The idea behind this criminal activity is an executable file that encrypts the hard drive of the computer in a manner that requires a decryption key to be obtained by paying a “fine” to the criminals.  The files are then held hostage for a $300- $500 ransom, which is wired to an anonymous site.  Failure to pay the fine will result in the destruction of the decryption key.

One of the ways the virus is enabled is through an email that appears to be sent from a shipping company stating that their package can be tracked through this link.  When the user clicks this link the virus begins infecting the computer fast.  Sometimes it is able to encrypt the entire hard drive, and other times it only encrypts certain file types.

Estimates speculate that these criminals are making about $30 million every 100 days!  All experts stipulate that people must stop paying these criminals now!      

What do you do if your machine is infected by the CryptoLocker?  Immediately turn the computer off; removing the battery, unplugging the power cable, or whatever it takes to remove the power source from the machine.  The virus can be removed from the machine readily.  Conversely, the issue comes in accessing the files that have been encrypted.  If the user has a systematic back-up schedule then there should be minimal data loss due to this encryption.  On the other hand, if the user only backs-up their files once a month and performs quite a bit of work on this computer, there is the potential for severe data loss.  Even if the ransom is paid in an attempt to get the decryption key, there is no guarantee that the files will be unlocked. 

AntWorks ProTech can design a security package that will protect your business and home computers against criminal activity like the CryptoLocker virus.  As the first technology solutions company in the central Virginia area, we Reimagine IT!

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