There has been a new malware program discovered in the past few weeks that is infecting computers across the internet called Cryptolocker. A malware program is kind of like a virus except that it requires you to do something to activate it. Unlike a virus, It will not spread from computer to computer unless you specifically click on something to make it infect you. That means YOU have to protect yourself. Traditional Antivirus program will most likely not stop Cryptolocker yet because it requires you to click on it's link to initiate it. This malware is downloaded to your computer by either clicking on a link in an email message or by clicking on a link to visit a web page on a web site that has been infected with the malware.
Please be cautious of what you are clicking on when reading your email and when using web sites. Do NOT click on any links in email messages from people you do not know and trust. And please do not click on any links on web sites that you are not 100% certain they are legitimate. If you are using a search engine like Google, Yahoo, or MSN to search for something, please be 100% certain you trust the web site link you are about to click on before you click on it.
This malware is extremely dangerous in that it encrypts documents both on your computer and on network servers that you are connected to. After it has encrypted your files, making them unaccessible by you or anyone else, Cryptolocker will then pop up a screen on your computer instructing you how to send the perpetrators money to recover your files. The amount of the malware ransom currently being requested has ranged from $100 to $500 per infected computer. Some people have reported that they were able to recover their files after paying the ransom and some have said they paid the money and got nothing in return.
The encryption that is used by the malware is NOT reversible without the key that MIGHT be received if you pay the ransom. So if you get infected with this malware program, you risk destroying all of your documents and data as well as the data and documents stored on your organizations network servers. That is VERY VERY bad. It is possible to remove the infection from a computer once you realize you have it. However, let me stress this again. If the malware infects your files or files on the network servers that your computer talks to, there is currently NO way to undo the damage it causes. Your documents and data will be lost.
Things you can do to prevent Cryptolocker and other bad things from biting us:
- Be aware of what you are clicking on and do NOT access web sites you are not 100% certain of.
- Use a USB drive or external hard drive to regularly backup any important documents from your computer and DO NOT leave that USB drive plugged in all the time.
- If a box pops up on your computer with a screen telling you that you are infected with anything and/or asking you for money, IMMEDIATELY turn off the computer and contact us for assistance. Do NOT turn your computer back on until you receive the ok from me to do so.
- If in doubt, just say no. If you are unsure, ask before you click on something. Unless you are 100% certain, do NOT click on that link!
- And above all else, be safe.
Mac's, iPhones, iPads, and Android tablets are immune to the Cryptolocker malware. It only attacks Windows based computers right now.