Ransomware is a type of malware that tries to extort money from you. CryptoLocker forcing you to pay hundreds of dollars to regain access to them. Malware is no longer created by teenagers, current malware is now produced by organized crime.
Ransomware may be more up-front, hook deep into your system. This malware could be bypassed, malware removal tools or just by reinstalling Windows.
Unfortunately, Ransomware is becoming more and more sophisticated. This is the latest examples, CryptoLocker, starts encrypting your personal files as soon as it gains access to your system, preventing access to the files without knowing the encryption key. CryptoLocker then displays a message informing you that your files have been locked with encryption and that you have just a few days to pay up. If you pay them $300, they’ll hand you the encryption key and you can recover your files. You can never be sure that the criminals will keep their end of the deal.
This type of malware is another good example of why backups are essential. You should regularly back up files to an external hard drive or a remote file storage server. If all your copies of your files are on your computer, malware that infects your computer could encrypt them all and restrict access or even delete them entirely.
How do you become infected with CryptoLocker
This infection is typically spread through emails sent to company email addresses that pretend to be customer support related issues from Fedex, UPS, DHS, etc. These emails would contain a zip attachment that when opened would infect the computer. These zip files contain executables that are disguised as PDF files as they have a PDF icon and are typically named something like FORM_101513.exe or FORM_101513.pdf.exe. Since Microsoft does not show extensions by default, they look like normal PDF files and people open them.
• Use a good antivirus product that will attempt to stop ransomware in its tracks. Antivirus programs are never perfect and you could be infected even if you run one, but it’s an important layer of defense.
• Avoid running suspicious files. Ransomware can arrive in .exe files attached to emails, from illicit websites containing pirated software, or anywhere else that malware comes from. Be alert and exercise caution over the files you download and run.
• Keep your software updated. Using an old version of your web browser, operating system, or a browser plugin can allow malware in through open security holes. If you have Java installed, you should probably uninstall it.
CryptoLocker is brutally efficient and smart. It just wants to get down to business and take your money. Holding your files hostage is an effective way to prevent removal by antivirus programs after it’s taken root, but CryptoLocker is much less scary if you have good backups.
BACKUP, BACKUP, BACKUP, BACKUP!!!