One of my writer friends recently received a message on her computer asking for ransom.
What was the ransom for?
All of the files on her computer.
They had been encrypted by a virus.
Six years of her hard work as a writer where suddenly unreadable.
It all started with an email from what appeared to be the U.S. Postal Service informing her of a package they had not been able to deliver.
She opened the email and the attachment. Then the ugly virus software started working through her files.
She had no idea what was happening within her computer until she received the message asking her to submit the randsom.
CryptoLocker, a malicious software that is infecting computers around the world – encrypting important files and demanding a ransom to unlock them.
It attacks everything – documents, databases, spreadsheets, photos, videos and music collections. Then it scrambles the files with encryption that can only be opened by the crooks.
It appears that your computer is working normally until you try to open the encrypted files.
Then it asks you to pay a ransom within three days or your files are permanently encrypted.
Her ransom was $300.00. Even if you pay the ransom, the decryption key does not always work.
1. Never open a file from an unknown source.
2. Before opening a file, find a way to confirm that it is real. After taking a copy of the request to the U.S. Post Office, this author friend found out that the U.S. Post Office never sends emails. Had she asked before she opened it, she would have saved herself a big headache.
3. Backup, Backup, Backup – a separate manual backup – not an automated backup that will simply automatically copy the encrypted files and overwrite your good files.
With a recent backup, you can recover from CryptoLocker and other malware with no serious consequences.
For more thorough information on what to do about this virus, watch this helpful video.
It is really sad we live in a time when people spend time writing programs to wreak havoc on our computers.
Please click out of this blog and back up your computer. It will be worth it.