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CryptoLocker a nasty one 19 Feb 2014

CryptoLocker is a ransomware virus. It’s created havoc around the world and is one you hope you never get.

Essentially it infects your PC’s files and will delete them permanently unless you pay a ransom within three days. The ransom - about $500 - is paid through Bitcoin or MoneyPak, which are private fund exchange networks. It’s almost impossible to track the perpetrators.

The infection occurs via email, usually suggesting you should track a parcel to be delivered. Click on the attachment, open the Zip file and the virus goes to work gathering data on all your files. It then shows you a “ransom note”. While you might be wary of opening any strange attachments, it can still happen, especially around Christmas time when you could be expecting a delivery.

The attachment usually has a double extension name, for example .pdf.exe. The pdf extension adds some credibility; the exe does the nasty stuff. Beware of any double-extension attachments.

Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do once you’re infected. One large New Zealand firm recently paid the ransom as it couldn’t fix it and couldn’t afford to lose the data.

As with all viruses, protection is easier than cure. Make sure you have a robust anti-virus package running on ALL your computers. (The New Zealand firm had good anti-virus protection, but one employee connected a personal laptop to the company network and was not properly protected.)

As a rule, free anti-virus software is not good enough. Pay for it and be better protected. One useful tool - but not a silver bullet - is CryptoPrevent, which stops your computer from down-loading double-extension files.

So far the virus seems to infect PCs running Windows 7, Vista and XP, but Windows 8 and Macs could be vulnerable, too.

If you’re unsure about your protection, call your local computer service company for advice.

 

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