The New Security Threat: Cryptolocker

The criminals who develop and spread viruses and malware are getting increasingly creative, and with Cryptolocker, they’ve truly outdone themselves. Cryptolocker is a sneaky new kind of ransomware, and we’ve already helped one new client deal with this nasty virus. Learn more about what Cryptolocker is, how it works, and how Professional Network Solutions can help you protect yourself and your files.

Cryptolocker is ransomware, a type of computer viruses that freezes your machine and asks you to pay a fee in order to access your software and files. Cryptolocker takes ransomware one step further: Once on your machine, it installs itself and begins encrypting your files – everything on your machine and even those on network and connected drives that you have access to. While this is happening, your computer and software still work. Only after it has encrypted your files does it alert you to its presence – a box pops up telling you that you have 100 hours to pay $300 to get a decryption key that will restore access to your files. (Though, whether they’ll hold up to their end of the deal after you pay up remains to be seen.)

Clever, right?

The genius of Cryptolocker is in its sneakiness. It does its damage before notifying you, and though you can remove the virus from your computer, you cannot decrypt your files without their key. If you haven’t backed anything up, you’re stuck. Cryptolocker is spread just like any other virus or malware: through spam emails that look legitimate, suspicious websites, or dodgy browser extensions.

How can you protect yourself? Let Professional Network Solutions help.

Be a skeptic.

We’ve talked a lot on this blog about spam and phishing scams, and bringing a healthy dose of skepticism to your email each day will go a long way toward protecting yourself. If you don’t recognize the sender, don’t click any links in the email, download images, or open attachments. Even if a sender you recognize sends you a file, don’t open it unless you were expecting it. A quick phone call to verify the attachment can go a long way toward protecting your computer.

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Install antivirus software.

While antivirus software doesn’t catch everything – new viruses and malware are developed and released every day – installing antivirus on your computer and network will catch most things that try to attack your system. If you’re not sure whether you have antivirus protection for your business’ computers – or you don’t know where to start – contact PNS today. Our security experts will assess your system and get you on the path to greater virus protection.

Stay up to date.

Outdated software can give viruses and malware like Cryptolocker access to your system. Keep antivirus software, operating systems, browsers, browser extensions, and any software that accesses the Internet up to date. Are you up to date? Contact us today, and we can help you get there!

Back up your files.

If Cryptolocker installs itself on your system and encrypts your files, you can’t get access to your files even after the virus is removed. Back up your personal and professional files somewhere other than on your computer or connected network or drive. External hard drives, remote file storage services, or offline on USB drives or discs are the best ways to protect your important files. Back up frequently – an automated system is best. PNS can help you set up a backup system that can protect your important data when the worst happens. Contact us today to start protecting your files.

If you have questions about Cryptolocker or any computer virus, we’re here to help! Professional Network Solutions’ security experts can assess your system, get you protected, and then help you stay up to date and protected. Contact us today – before the next nasty virus comes along!

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