Crypto Locker Warning

It seems like I write monthly about computer security but if you needed a reminder to be careful about the emails and attachments you open, it’s now. The Crypto Locker virus that is going around is said to be one of the worst ever and is infecting computers with the Windows OS all across the United States. The virus, also called “ransomware,” works by holding your files hostage until you pay a fee.

The Crypto Locker virus is passed around in emails that have innocent enough looking senders, such as UPS or FedEx, but they’re not really from these corporations, of course. Instead, when you open the attachment, your computer becomes infected and the virus locks all your files until you pay a ransom. Check out a picture of what the Crypto Locker demand screen looks like:

Ransomware causes your computer files to be non-accessible and when that happens you have two choices. You can recover if you have a backup which I hope you do or pay the ransom within 100 hours. If you do not pay the ransom you will lose all of your data.

The Crypto Locker email pretends often pretends to be from a financial institution like a bank or Pay Pal and reports that it has dire news for you and that the attachment is important. readers of these emails often panic and open the attachment and then it’s too late. The PC is infected and the files are encrypted which means you cannot open your own files. The attachment will often disguise itself as JPEG images, as PDF files, as Microsoft Office files and many other file types.  After the computer becomes infected, users are usually given 100 hours to pay a fee between $100 and $700 to get the files decrypted.

This Is Important – Follow These Rules

1.  If you get an email from somebody you do not know, especially if it has attachments, do not open anything with it, just delete the email.

2.  If you did not specifically ask for an attachment do not open it. If you are curious reach out to the send by phone before opening anything. If you cannot contact the send do not open it!

Backing Up Your Files is More Important Then Ever

Make sure you have all of your files backed up both on a local disconnected USB hard drive and in the cloud. There are many free and affordable cloud services available so there is really no excuse not to do this. If your PC gets infected with the Crypto Locker virus you backup may be your digital salvation.

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