Better Business Bureau Serving Northern Colorado warns that CryptoLocker, the latest and most virulent ransomware to date, is spreading quickly and that computer users should exercise extreme caution this holiday season.
CryptoLocker encrypts data files with a unique key that only the malicious hackers can access. Victims then see a pop-up notice that to have their files restores they have up to 100 hours to pay ransom via bitcoins, a non-traceable electronic form of payment, or Green Dot MoneyPak. The ransom is usually $300 with some reports of two bitcoins, or $2,000. Although the virus can be removed from computers, encrypted files cannot be fixed.
The U.S. Computer Emergency Response Team advises that users and administrators take the following preventative measures:
Conduct routine backups of important files, keeping the backups stored offline.
Maintain up-to-date anti-virus software.
Keep your operating system and software up-to-date with the latest patches.
Do not follow unsolicited Web links in email.
Use caution when opening email attachments.
Follow safe practices when browsing the Web.
If you believe your computer has been infected with CryptoLocker malware:
Immediately disconnect the infected system from wireless or wired networks. This may prevent the malware from further encrypting any more files on the network.
Users who are infected with the malware should consult with a reputable security expert to assist in removing the malware.
If possible, change all online account passwords and network passwords after removing the system from the network. Change all system passwords once the malware is removed from the system.
Start With Trust. Find more consumer tips and information at wynco.bbb.org.