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BBB, FTC and FBI Warn of Malware that Takes Hostage Consumer and Business Computers
A new breed of malicious software can creep into your computer, encrypt all of your personal files so you can no longer open them, and then demand money to unencrypt them.
March 06, 2014

“Cryptolocker” Demands Money to Restore Your Files 

Wallingford, CT – Connecticut Better Business Bureau is warning consumers and businesses about a new breed of malicious software that can creep into your computer, encrypt all of your personal files so you can no longer open them, and then demand money to decrypt them. 

A news release by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) explains how the virus works.  The FBI and other government agencies have issued similar alerts.

The appropriately-named “Cryptolocker” malware is spread through file attachments in an email, which typically looks like it comes from a legitimate company.  Once a computer is infected, the user gets a ransom notice demanding from several hundred to $3,000 dollars through an anonymous payment system within a given time frame.   Paying the ransom is no guarantee that the criminals will send a decryption key to restore a victim's access to documents, music, photographs and shared files.

Click here to see the Cryptolocker ransom screen in PDF format.

Many computer protection suites offer a Cryptolocker removal tool, however, in some cases, it may be necessary to wipe clean your hard drive and reinstall the operating system and personal files.

If you believe your computer has been infected with CryptoLocker malware:

1. Immediately disconnect the infected system from wireless or wired networks. This may prevent the malware from further encrypting any more files on networked computers.

2. Users infected with Cryptolocker should consult a reputable security expert to assist in removing the malware.

3. Change all online account, network and system passwords after  removing the malware.

Better Business Bureau says the best way to avoid getting dangerous malware on your computer is to:

Back up your files through ‘cold storage’ - If you have a clean backup that the malware can’t reach, you can restore your files.  Back up your files with an external hard drive and keep it unplugged from your computer when you’re not using it.

Research before you click - Before clicking on an unknown link or popup, take the time to research the company sending you the message by first verifying it at bbb.org.

Don’t believe the message - To persuade you to click a virus-laden link or gather your personal information, con artists must earn your trust.  They try to accomplish this by composing convincing-looking messages that entice victims to click an advertisement or popup.

Protect your personal information - Don’t provide your personal information or credit card information to an unknown company or website.  If you’re thinking of purchasing something online, there are various icons and software programs that indicate that security measures are in place, such as “https” instead of “http,” in a browser window, or a padlock icon on the browser screen.

Protect your computer - Installing updates to your operating system can be done for free by enabling the option in your computer’s security center.  Keep all anti-virus software up-to-date and make sure all security patches and updates are installed for programs that access the Internet.  Scan all computers weekly.

You will find additional consumer tips at www.ct.bbb.org.