Cryptolocker – be alert to this very dangerous virus

There is currently a very dangerous computer virus lurking in the ether, known as CryptoLocker, which you should be very careful to avoid. This is of the ransomware type – the virus installs an encryption program on your Windows computer to encrypt all of your files and then pops-up a window demanding you pay hundreds of pounds to reveal the key to unscramble your data. The virus is usually spread via an attachment to a fake email purporting to be from your bank, maybe mentioning a fax or voicemail – once the attachment is opened the malicious software pounces and makes it impossible to open any of your files.

This virus can be removed after infection but the damage caused to your data is IRREVERSIBLE.

The UK National Crime Agency has some further background to the Cryptolocker problem on their website.


Steps you should take to prevent infection:

 

  • Keep your operating system up-to-date (via Windows Update).
  • Install a reputable anti-virus product (we use ESET) and ensure that it also is updated regularly.
  • Install an appropriate data back-up routine which copies your files to a secure zone, preferably off-site – if there is no back-up available then nothing can be done to restore an infected computer.
  • DO NOT open emails or attachments claiming to be from a bank or financial institution – be very wary of email attachments from an unknown source or which are otherwise suspicious.

 

 

Should your computer become infected:

 

  • DO NOT pay the ransom – there is no evidence that the perpertrators ever front up with a valid key for decoding and you are likely to lose your money as well as your data. The organised crime gangs behind this scam even take payment by the untraceable online currency, Bitcoin.
  • Take the computer off-line from the internet.
  • Install and execute a reputable removal tool.
  • Consider reporting the crime to ActionFraud
  • Restore your data backup – you do have a backup, don’t you?

 

 
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