What is CryptoLocker? It is a type of Malware.

CryptoLocker is a type of malware that is damaging for individuals to enterprise IT.

CryptoLocker is a specific instance of malware that encrypted files on Windows computers, then demanded a ransom in exchange for the decryption key. It first appeared in September 2013 as part of a prolonged assault that ended in May 2014. 

CryptoLocker tricked targets into downloading malicious attachments sent through email.Once opened, these Trojan horse attachments would execute the malware on connected devices.

Once the CryptoLocker code executes, it encrypts files and file folders on desktops and servers. It then essentially holds the data for “ransom” by prompting a user with a popup once they try to open a file. The scary-looking popup will tell them to pay a fee, generally in Bitcoin, to decrypt them. Because it’s a digital hostage situation - CryptoLocker and its brothers have come to be known as “ransomware.”

Malware like CryptoLocker can enter an (un)protected network through many possibilities, including email, file sharing sites, and downloads. New variants have successfully eluded anti-virus and firewall technologies, and it’s reasonable to expect that more will continue to emerge that are able to bypass preventative measures.

While the original CryptoLocker malware has been eliminated, it helped spawn a new breed of malware and ransomware that continues to threaten computers and networks to this day.

What can you do to protect against future attacks by CryptoLocker-type malware?

Make regular back-ups of your data - In the event of ransomware, this is by far the most efficient method to get your data back. Be sure to disconnect and store any external hard drive following the backup to prevent it from being infected. When left connected to your computer, the malware can encrypt it as well. You should also back up to cloud services if possible. With a current backup always on hand, ransomware won't be as much of a concern.

Never download attachments from people you don't know or trust - This is how the CryptoLocker ransomware made its way onto the computers of its victims. Never download anything you're not sure about. It's also a good idea to double-check any attachments that arrive from your friends or family by simply asking them if they sent it to you before opening.

Don't click on links from unknown sources - The same warnings apply here as in the previous example. If you come across a link from an unfamiliar source, don't follow it. Not only in emails, but also on the internet, especially in comment sections and forums. Links might direct you to harmful websites that install malware onto your computer without your consent.

Avoid downloading programs, applications, and content from unfamiliar/unverified websites - When you go through official sites, you're getting access to a higher degree of protection since the material has been thoroughly examined. P2P file sharing may be a tempting way to get what you desire, but it comes with its own set of risks.

Keep your software up to date - Use automatic updates and patches to stay up to date and secure. Automate the installation of important software upgrades, as well as security fixes for your operating system and other applications. These are frequently able to eliminate vulnerabilities that cybercriminals would use to plant malware on your computer.

Limit the personal information you share or put on the internet - The more personal information a cybercriminal has on you, the better they can tailor a phishing attack against you. Take an active role in maintaining your online privacy.

Use the most current antivirus software available - The good news is that you can do a lot to prevent your network and your devices from being hacked. Antivirus software on your computer helps prevent malware from attaching itself and using a VPN to stay safe when surfing the internet on public Wi-Fi.

Ransomware on average costs $1.85 Million per company and continues to double each year.

The rise of ransomware means the total cost of damages related to attacks using cryptographic file-locking software will continue to increase as long as companies are paying the ransom. Hackerpocalypse: A Cybercrime Revelation, suggests that individuals and organizations who feel they have no choice but to pay a fee to unlock their files have led to the increasing rise of ransomware. If it is working, it will continue just like anything else.  The article notes how even the law itself isn’t exempt from becoming a victim as even police departments have had to pay a ransom to unlock the encrypted files.

In the end, good backup and a disaster recovery plan and return to operations is the most effective defense.  Let's get started on making sure your disaster recovery plan and DRaaS solution are in line with your business needs.


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