What is Cryptolocker?
Cryptolocker is a nasty computer virus classified as ransomware because it denies access to any data on the infected computer unless a ransom is paid. Cryptolocker uses an advanced encryption standard to block access to any data files on the infected computer. This virus can replicate itself over a network with shared drives or to any drive that is attached to the infected computer. So, even your backup drives can be compromised if they are attached to the infected computer. The virus comes with a timer demanding that payment must be made within the allotted time frame. Failure to do so will lead to loss of data. Even though the virus can be removed, there is no way to decrypt data once the key is lost or deleted. This makes Cryptolocker a much worse ransomware than the money pack FBI virus.
What To Do If Your Computer Gets Infected
Disconnect your computer from the network and turn it off if you suspect that it’s been hit by cryptolocker. This is sort of a physical quarantine to prevent the infection from spreading. Leaving the computer on after it’s been infected only leads to more damage. Due to the seriousness of this virus, I would not recommend the “do it yourself” approach, unless you have experience with virus removal. So, turn off that computer and get it to a computer repair expert as soon as possible! Be sure to unplug any external hard drives that may be attached to that computer to mitigate the damage.
How To Prevent Cryptolocker Infection
We have to rethink computer security in order to protect our computers from viruses like cryptolocker. Computers are useful machines, but they don’t protect themselves. It’s not enough to put an anti-virus and think it’s fully protected. It’s becoming more and more necessary for the end users to be proactive in protecting their computers or mobile devices. That being said, I would like to reiterate basic tips that can help you recover your computer from a computer virus attack like cryptolocker:
- Get a good reliable anti-virus. Do your own research reading real customer feedback before buying an anti-virus. A place like Amazon.com is a good place to start your research and find some of the top rated computer security software.
- Check your computers Firewall. Most Windows computers come with a firewall by default. Make sure that it’s set to the recommended settings. If you use a third party firewall like Norton or Kaspersky make sure the software is active and up to date.
- Keep your computer up-to-date. This applies to your Windows updates, Java updates, Adobe updates etc. You don’t have to visit a “bad” website these days to get a computer virus. All it takes for a computer to be infected is outdated software that can be exploited by smart malicious software. If you are still running on Windows XP, you might want to think about upgrading to Windows 7 soon since the support for Windows XP will be ending in April of 2014.
- Backup your computer data. Since Cryptolocker can infect hard drives that are attached to the infected computer, it is now necessary to reevaluate your backup method. If you usually leave your external hard drive attached to the computer you will need to change that and plug in the external hard drive only when running the backup. You might also have to scan your PC first before plugging in your external hard drive. Using cloud services like Dropbox or Carbonite for backup can also give you peace of mind.
- Be security conscious: Malicious software is often calculated to tricking the end user. We see examples of this in fake emails with infected attachments or downloads that are not what they seem. Adapting safe habits like not opening weird emails or attachments and browsing the web wisely helps to protect your computer from virus attacks. It’s natural to be curious, but when it comes to computer security, curiosity can be a gateway used by malicious software to harm your computer. That seemingly innocent email from dear “Aunt Betsy,” who could barely email, but somehow managed to attach links for cute cats or worse might be the hackers Trojan horse past the security walls of your digital life. I cannot stress enough the role of end users as part of the computer’s security system. Being security conscious is being vigilant and taking preventative measures against known computer or mobile device vulnerabilities that are often exploited by malicious software like cryptolocker and hackers. This article gives you the most crucial points to focus on. I hope this will come in handy.
Thank you for reading all the way to the end. I know it’s a long read, but I thought it was necessary given the circumstances.