What is the Crypto Locker Virus and how can my PC avoid this malware?

Black lock

In recent years malware has begun to use tactics resembling extortion in order to gain access to financial information.  These techniques initially started as hiding the user’s data and demanding a ransom for an alleged crime.  The malware application would generate a frightening banner and demand several hundred dollars claiming the user had been caught doing something illegal.  Some malware would go as far as to hide the user’s data and demand money to restore it.  CryptoLocker has changed the malware dynamic, however, as its ability to fully encrypt your data is not a joke.

CryptoLocker emerged recently in late 2013, often arriving in the form of an e-mail attachment to the victim’s computer.  Once installed it would demand the user paid several hundred dollars to decrypt their data and the offer would expire in 72 hours.  There is absolutely no guarantee that paying this ransom will decrypt the data that has been hijacked, let alone remove the malware.  After the 72 hours passed the amount owed would leap to $2,000.00 in order to decrypt the data.

What makes CryptoLocker unique is its ability to essentially hold your data hostage.  Other malware that made this claim in the past simply hid your data or used very weak encryption that was easily broken.  In addition, CryptoLocker takes this practice a step further and will attempt to encrypt all accessible storage devices connected to the computer.  That includes flash drives, internal and external hard drives (or SSDs), network attached storage (i.e. file servers) and some cloud storage services that stay attached to the computer.

Because CryptoLocker uses 2048-bit encryption there is no easy way to break it.  Instead the best safe guards are going to be exercising extreme caution with all e-mail attachments, web links and PDF documents.  Ensure you use up to date anti-virus software and scan all e-mail attachments, web downloads, PDF files, zip files, executable files that you have not accessed before as well as routinely scanning your PC.  In addition, try to disconnect any storage devices when not backing up your PC or otherwise accessing them.  This can ensure that in the event of a CryptoLocker infection, your backup stays intact.

Arlington Virginia Computer Repair has over 18 years of experience with computer security, malware analysis and removal.  We provide the most comprehensive solutions available to our clients to ensure thorough clean-up and a better security configuration to fend off future attacks.  If you need professional help with virus removal please contact Arlington Virginia Computer Repair.