CryptoLocker: What You Should Know

 In Security, Ransomware

You may have heard about ransomware, especially given the rise in ransomware attacks. Perhaps you have read some frightening stories on the news and are doing your level best to keep safe. Keep in mind that computer security experts and network professionals have theorized that the increase in this kind of attack is because of its higher rate of success than other cybercrimes that have gradually become more difficult.

Also, it is worth noting that these days, the software programs for ransomware are readily available and cheap. According to a recent report from CyberEdge Group, in 2021, ransomware attacks have increased by 6 percent from last year.

What is CryptoLocker?

We can define CryptoLocker as a kind of malware called ransomware that first emerged in 2013. This software looks for files on your business computers or any attached media, such as USB memory sticks and shared drives, to encrypt. And once the code is executed, the software encrypts files on your desktops and network shares and holds these files for ransom. This prompts any user that attempts to open the file to pay a huge fee to decrypt them.

This software or Trojan horse mainly targets computers and locks your files through a two-pronged process called asymmetric encryption. Once this is done, the only way to decrypt your valuable data is through a unique key that is held by the hacker.

And the CryptoLocker virus will start displaying messages on the computer, warning you that your sensitive data will be deleted unless you pay the hacker a ransom.

Did you know that in 2014, CryptoLocker malware was considerably neutralized by Operation Tovar? The operation is a global collaboration of law enforcement and security companies that managed to shut down the command and control centers that drove the ransomware.

Also, keep in mind that CryptoLocker primarily infects computers (running MS Windows) through malicious attachments present in phishing emails.

CryptoLocker: Common Types

While the results are the same, you can fall prey to CryptoLocker ransomware attacks in many different ways. Keep in mind that this virus has to be downloaded in order to infect your computer.

This is why avoiding all suspicious email attachments, and websites is a major and important step in self-protection. Did you know that the most common way that your computer can become infected with CryptoLocker is via apparently harmless or benign email attachments?

In many cases, they will appear as a standard *.doc or PDF but contain a hidden *.exe file. The file will install itself on your computer as soon as you download the attachment.

How to Avoid CryptoLocker

The malware spreads through email by using various social engineering techniques. So, our recommendations include:

  • Being especially wary of email messages from senders that you do not know, particularly those with attached files.
  • Using an anti-virus and keeping it up to date. Did you know that many of the recent victims of CryptoLocker ransomware were already infected with malware? And they could have easily removed the program some time ago.
  • Disabling all hidden file extensions in MS Windows as it will also help recognize this kind of attack.

You should also have a backup system in place for all your critical files and data. This is important as it will help mitigate the damage, financial and reputational, caused not just by malware infections but any hardware problems as well.

Final Thoughts

In 2021 and beyond, protecting organizations and businesses against ransomware and malware has become the focus for most tech teams around the world. And when it comes to fighting CryptoLocker as well as other harmful ransomware, there is no doubt that prevention is better than recovery. This is because if you can keep your business or company from falling victim to hackers, you’ll save yourself plenty of time and frustration.

This is where entrusting your business security to Prescient can make all the difference. The team of experts and security professionals at Prescient is trained to identify weaknesses in your system before they can become costly problems. If you’re searching for a reliable and affordable service that can secure your business against the risk of malware and CryptoLocker, contact Prescient.

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