A new ransonmware virus is spreading. It is called CryptoLocker. Like most ransomware, CryptoLocker takes control of your PC or files. In order to regain control, you must pay the hacker a ransom…money. Once you pay up, they will relinquish control of your computer or files. Cryptolocker spreads primarily when infected email attachments are opened. Also, it has been known to download itself onto computers after infected websites are visited.
Cryptolocker encrypts (scrambles) all of your files making them unreadable. You can only read the files if you have the decryption key. In order to get the decryption key you must pay (using Bitcoin) the virus writer $300.
Removing Cryptolocker from your computer is not difficult. However, even after you remove Cryptolocker, your files are still scrambled and you can’t read them. The virus writer used very strong encryption. There are file decryption programs and computers you can use to try and guess the password of the decryption key, but with the level of encryption this virus uses, that would take about 50-100 years.
Basically, if you get infected with Cryptolocker, you have two choices, pay the money or never have use of your files again.
HOW TO AVOID GETTING INFECTED IN THE FIRST PLACE
Don’t click on email attachments from people you do not know or did not expect to receive.
Don’t go to infected websites.
Use an excellent antivirus program and keep it updated. New viruses are created every day. As I have said many times in the past, Avast Antivirus works well for me.
Have a backup of your files stored online, on a USB drive or external hard drive. Better yet, have a current image (Operating System AND files) of your computer stored on DVD discs or an external hard drive. Having a backup or image of your computer means that if you get infected with Cryptolocker, you can just erase your hard drive and restore your files. Erasing your hard drive deletes all of your files AND the control Cryptolocker has on your computer.
Check out CryptoPrevent. It is a free utility created by John Shaw, CEO Foolish IT. CryptoPrevent hardens your Windows Operating System (Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8, and 8.1) making it tougher for CryptoLocker to infect your computer.