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November 2013 New threat to your data
NOVEMBER 2013 NEW THREAT TO YOUR DATA!
There are times when the fire bell must be rung. We all know to not yell FIRE in a crowded theatre or at the ball park, but sometimes the alarm must be sounded. This is one of those times.
A newly reported form of "Ransom-ware" malicious software is infecting computers worldwide - encrypting important files and demanding a ransom to unlock them.
The SOLUTION is to either already have a backup of your data or PAY the price to get the encryption key to unlock and retrieve your data.
The question boils down to one of two choices:
The Solution Centre has a product called bacITup© which will be installed on your computer and protect you from this disaster. It is part of our RemotelyManaged suite and can be yours with a simple phone call 360-681-8796 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have you heard of the CryptoLocker virus yet? If not, you may well find it on a user's PC in the coming weeks.
Check out his short video from CNBC click here
CryptoLocker is a Trojan that finds its way onto machines when users inadvertently open an infected attachment.
The writers of CryptoLocker have sneakily changed the threat's icon to make it appear like a PDF file, increasing the chances of people being fooled into opening it. Cynics may feel inclined to say that users need little encouragement to open suspicious files anyway!
What Exactly is CryptoLocker?
CryptoLocker falls firmly into the category of "ransomware." Ransomware typically robs you of functionality or locks down your machine until you pay to restore the PC to its former glory. This is essentially what CryptoLocker does, but there's an additional "sting in the tail."
Put simply, CryptoLocker encrypts files. It aims specifically for data files such as those created in Microsoft Office or AutoCAD. It encrypts local files and those on mapped network drives.
So, while it's possible for a technician to remove the Trojan, CryptoLocker isn't like a fake antivirus product or a counterfeit legal enforcement screen. Yes, you can remove the virus itself, but you're still stuck with a bunch of encrypted files that only the CryptoLocker people can give you back.
Typically CryptoLocker asks for $300 initially, but can sometimes ask for significantly more if users have ignored initial requests for the money.
Why am I doing this?
As an IT professional and one who offers protections against such threats, it's my duty to warn you about CryptoLocker.
The cyber criminals behind the virus have been rather smart with their timing. With the holiday season approaching, they know plenty of people will be receiving delivery notifications for gifts, so they've resorted to the age-old tactic of hiding the Trojan in courier notification emails. Less experienced computer users seem to fall for this quite consistently.
(Rule of thumb, or Ounce of Prevention: " If you don't know the sender DON'T OPEN THE ATTACHMENT")
If the virus slips past both human and technical defenses, the hackers controlling CryptoLocker are onto a winner if they encrypt files belonging to people who don't have a backup. The only way to get back encrypted files that haven't been backed up is to pay the criminals to "unlock" them. As the criminals insist on anonymous payment methods, they could continue to get away with their scam for quite some time.
An Ounce of Prevention
Obviously people with good backups are in a rather better position, as they can restore the files they have lost access to once the virus is removed.
If you don't have a good prevention plan we need to talk.
It's worth finding a "prevention tool" for CryptoLocker and discussing the benefits of installing it on all of your machines. There are plenty of appropriate antivirus and malware tools online, most of which prevent the execution of files with "double extensions," such as the ".PDF.ZIP" used by CryptoLocker.
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