The reason for this urgent warning is due to the extreme nature of the threat. CryptoLocker encrypts and “locks” all of your personal computer files in a way that makes it impossible to recover them via normal methods. The virus also reaches out over a network to attack other nearby computers, and can easily take down an entire office of computers if left to run free.
You will only regain access to the locked files after paying a $300 ransom per computer to the criminals who wrote the virus.
We encourage you to immediately perform the following steps to help protect your family and business computers:
- Call a meeting with everyone in your company and speak with all family members in your home. Remind them to never open an email attachment unless they are expecting the attachment in advance.
- Even if they are expecting an attachment, double check the attachment very carefully before clicking on it. The virus is usually disguised as a file inside of a .zip file sent via email. The virus will come with a normal looking icon such as a Word Doc or a PDF file, but the file extension of the attachment will be an .exe file or something else that you don’t recognize instead.
- Make sure you have anti-virus software that is up to date and functioning properly.
- You should also be running the Professional (purchased) version of MalwareBytes.
- Use Chrome or Firefox (not Internet Explorer) to browse the internet and, if possible, enable script blocking in your browser.
- Double check that you have a good backup plan for all of your important data. You should have multiple copies of recent backups for all files on all computers. At least one copy of your backups should be stored away in a safe place (not connected to your computer).
As always, the instant you suspect that your computer has been infected by a virus you should immediately turn off your computer and contact a technology professional for assistance. DO NOT turn your computer back on until the threat has been evaluated! If you leave your computer turned on after a virus infection, you are giving the virus more time to damage your data.
If you have any questions at all about this new threat or would like some additional help securing your data, please don’t hesitate to give us a call. We’re here to help.
PS: Please share this warning with anyone you know who may be vulnerable to this virus. The frequency of the attacks appears to be accelerating.