We have had a proliferation of customers recently who have come to us with their computers infected by a form of cryptographic virus. The virus is usually known by one of two name: CryptoLocker or CryptoWall. Although, there are other variations. They have also been lumped into the category of “RansomWare” due to how the viruses are implemented on a user’s computer.
While most viruses try to attack Windows operating system files, this particularly nasty virus goes directly for the user’s data. MS Office documents, PDF files, ZIP files, photos, videos, and more. It compresses your data with a high level encryption algorithm. It cannot be hacked, unlocked, etc. without the decryption key and a special decryptor issued by the ransomer.
You will know if you are infected if you suddenly cannot open your data, but you find an unusual file on your desktop (or in the root of each data folder that is infected). When you open the file a window pops up telling you your data is being held for ransom. You must pay $500 to decrypt your data. If you don’t respond within XX number of days, it goes up to $1000. If you don’t respond within XX days after that, they will delete your data.
Unfortunately, once you are infected the only way around it is to “pay the piper”. However, the good news is, there are ways to protect yourself.
The first is to make sure you have a good antivirus product that protects against this kind of virus. We recommend Webroot Endpoint!
The second is to make sure you have a good backup plan in place. We recommend a cloud-based backup service that gets a copy of your data off-site. If you currently use local backups (ie. external hard drives, flash drives, etc) they can be infected along with the rest of your data. A cloud backup service ensures that if you get infected, once your system is refreshed, you will be able to recover your data from before the time of infection. We recommend Carbonite!
Home & Business Computer Services is a Webroot and Carbonite Partner! We would be happy to help you secure your critical data! Call us today for more information!