How to Deal with the Nasty Ransomware Called Cryptolocker
Cryptolocker is an ultra-nasty malicious program that makes your PC files completely inaccessible by encrypting them. The encryption is by way of 2048-bit RSA keys–in short, decryption is going to be near-impossible if you don’t have the private key. There will be a prompt on your screen warning you that the only way to get the private key to decrypt your files is for you to pay a “ransom” to the cybercriminals in a specified amount of time. The ransom is usually in Bitcoins and can cost between £100 and £300. The problem is that even if you are willing to pay money just to get your precious files back, there is no way you’ll know for sure if the people behind the ransomware would hand your files back to you.
The all-in-one extortion and identity breach package called Cryptolocker is the most serious variant of all ransomware because it infects, encrypts, and locks pretty much all of your usable files–from multimedia files to MS Office documents. Only those with file extension .exe and your system files are spared by Cryptolocker.
Cryptolocker can easily come by way of obsolete browser plugins when you visit hacked websites. So, always update the apps and browsers that you use, because software developers are continuously discovering and actively working on plugging potential security holes that can be exploited to deploy malware. For your operating system, enable automatic updates to promptly receive security patches.
Block pop-ups because you may inadvertently click a malicious link on a pop-up message. Make it a habit to run a full-system scan with an updated antivirus program. Cryptolocker can be made to latch onto an existing malware in your system and use it as a backdoor.
Also, be wary of opening emailed attachments and clicking links sent to you via instant messages in social networking sites. You should recognize by now how phishing emails work. Invest in a good internet security suite and install another security program to supplement your main antivirus system. The free version of Malwarebytes makes for an impressive addition to your anti-malware arsenal. You can also check out Cryptolocker-specific tools such as CryptoLocker Prevention Kit from Thirdtier.net and CryptoPrevent from Foolish IT.
Microsoft advises on its support site to keep the Windows firewall turned on and to use the free Microsoft Security Essentials if you are not a Windows 8 or RT user.
Most importantly, consider either a removable drive or a secure cloud storage service to sync and backup your files regularly. This won’t prevent contact with Cryptolocker, but a good backup makes it easy for you to start anew just by reinstalling your computer’s software and clearing the infection.
If your computer gets infected by this type of ransomware, disconnect at once from the internet. Then shut down your computer. If you have a good backup that is outside your infected machine’s local network, then you’re good and can easily recover from Cryptolocker. Consider your Cryptolocker-scrambled files gone. Simply reboot in safe mode and then use the system restore feature in Windows.