Calling all PC users, we from time to time warn you of the dangers of viruses and Trojans, etc. but I felt that an update is CRITICAL, due to a relatively new strand of malware referred to as “ransomware”. It is designed to extort money from computer users by holding computers and files hostage until the computer user pays a ransom fee to get them back.
Although this is a very clever scam, the malware is typically unsuccessful in actually locking computer files if the ransomware is caught and dealt with promptly by a professional. Unfortunately, all that has changed with a new piece of ransomware that is so severe it has been described as “game changing” within the IT industry.
Today I received a report that a client was infected with a piece of ransomeware called “Cryptolocker” that will first hijack your PC and at the same time begin to encrypt your most popular file types, like Word, Excel, jpg’s, PDF, etc. so you cannot open them. The process is executed in stealth mode and once the process is complete the screen is then hijacked with the following message.
The major twist is that unless you pay the ransom (normally around $300) there is no way to decrypt the files and THEY WILL BE LOST FOREVER.
How to catch it
Cryptolocker is spread through malicious hyperlinks shared via social media and spam emails, like fake UPS tracking and TAX refund notification emails. Once the attachment or link is opened, the computer becomes infected immediately, and the virus begins the encryption process.
- Use a professional, quality antivirus software program (Like from Panda Security) and keep it updated daily and malware free.
- Keeping your operating system up-to-date with the latest patches. You should check if any updates exist for your system.
- For on-going protection, ensure that you are running effective and up-to-date security software and don’t turn off any obvious security measures (e.g. Firewalls)
- Make sure you keep back-up copies of important/precious files (documents/pictures etc.) which would be very hard or impossible to reproduce if they are lost
- Never open attachments or links in emails you don’t recognise or links in shared social networks.
- Scanning all files downloaded online – and only downloading files from trusted sources.
- After following the above steps you feel there is still a problem or if you are not sure what to do, seek further expert advice. Doing nothing could very easily cause you problems later!
What to do if I get infected?
If you are infected STOP don’t do anything more. Turn off your PC and contact us IMMEDIATELY and don’t be tempted to switch it on again until it is sorted.
Is there any way of getting my files back?
Sorry NO, unless you pay the ransom or you have a clean data backup stored in an offsite facility.
I will echo the advice of our Cybercrime Forensics Specialist Group:-
Seek advice on this if you are not sure – the worst thing to do is to do nothing.
RLS Computer Services – IT Support
0844 334 2020
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