There have been a couple notable developments in the world of Malware. Before we get into those updates lets clear up a few terms that can be confusing if you don’t deal with viruses every day.

Malware: This is a general term for viruses, worms, trojans, or any other bad software

Ransomware: This is a specific kind of virus or malware that inflicts some form of obvious harm to your computer, like freezing it or displaying multiple and repeated popups, preventing access to data, or other such unwanted content, and then hold it for ransom by encrypting the files and asking for a payment for their release

CryptoLocker: A specific kind of ransomware that usually infects a computer by sending an email with a PDF attachment which, once you download it, encrypts certain files and holds them for ransom for 72 to 96 hours at which point, if the ransom is not paid, will be de deleted, permanently encrypted, or the encryption will be deleted rendering the files beyond redemption.

CryptoLocker started showing up in late fall of 2013 and has since manifested with various new features such as the ability to take payments in Bitcoin or automatically uploading itself onto any flash drives that may be plugged in to the computer. It will usually start with a flashing pop up (a good indication that a virus is on board) that informs you of the encryption of your files and how to ransom them.

A recent form of this is a virus known as CryptoWall, CryptorBit Powerlocker or Prisonlocker that, while it uses a less sophisticated encryption, renders such actions that you would normally take ineffective such as pressing CTRL+ALT+ Delete or engaging Task Manager or Command Prompt which makes it much harder to combat than most viruses and is a particularly nasty new feature to Cryptolocker type viruses.

How can I avoid these?

Viruses like these are problematic when contracted but are fairly easy to avoid by adopting these simple bits of advice:

  • Don’t open email attachments unless you know for certain that they are from someone you know. These viruses have the ability to send items from contacts in your address book and often feigning personal contact so if you are not expecting anything you should check with the person before opening anything.
  • If your files are being held for ransom, it is strongly advised that you do not pay the ransom since this encourages future attacks.
  • Back up your files on a server and back up the server. This should be normal practice and it would make it harder for the Malware to do its job.
  • Know your anti-virus program. Sometimes the pop-ups will imitate the look of well-known programs usually claiming to be them.
  • Keep your Anti-Virus software up to date. This is not something to procrastinate on.
  • Don’t visit websites that are questionable. If a site exposes you to an extraordinary amount of pop-ups or asks you to download anything or simply does not look professional, leave immediately.
  • Last but not least, smart web browsing is the best defense.

All of these preventative practices help but when your computer has contracted a virus, the best action to take is to call SpeedyIT360 for help!

Contact Maribel Cambo, SpeedyIT360 at 954-817-8907 or email her at maribel@speedyit360.com