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Beware of Cryptolocker

Cryptolocker malware screen shot
Cryptolocker malware screen shot
Screen shot courtesy of Kaspersky Lab

One of the new insidious pieces of malware that is attacking individuals and firms currently is Cryptolocker. This is a new ransomware Trojan that encrypts your files and demands money to return them.

The way it works is that users will get an e-mail with an attachment. While most users know to be wary of attachments from unknown sources, this e-mail may appear to be legitimate. In some cases, it has appeared to be from a member of the company. In another incident it appeared as a tracking form from Fed Ex. Very security conscientious individuals have fallen prey to this scam. It is best to contact the individual who has sent the attachment, if you are not expecting it.

Once the attachment is opened, the screen above appears and states that ‘Your personal files are encrypted’. If you are on a network, this includes files that you have shared with others.

You are asked to pay $300. to get the encryption key to unlock your data. You can ask yourself whether you would like to give your credit card to a company that would attack you like this. I wouldn’t. I have heard stories that some people have paid and their data was unlocked. Other stories indicate that they paid and the data wasn’t unlocked.

Engineers and lab experts have been working on a solution to this encryption, but it appears that for each new victim a unique key is created. So far only Cryptolocker has been able to unencrypt.

The best method to protect yourself is to have an anti-virus and anti-malware package that will stop the encryption from occurring. While I’m sure multiple manufacturers are scrambling to add this to their anti-virus, anti-malware protection, currently Kaspersky offers a solution.

Obviously the other necessity is to back up your files at least nightly. This insures that you will lose at most a days’ worth of work.

Be careful, let your staff, colleagues and friends know about this ransomware Trojan. Prevention is always the best path.


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