There is a very recent threat on the Internet that is being referred to as a crypto-locker attack. You may be familiar with terms like ad-ware and spyware but this is a new type of malware threat known as ransom-ware, which infects your computer and offers you a chance to buy software to “clean” the malware.
According to security expert Steve Gibson (host of Security Now!), this is a new threat uses strong encryption to encrypt the files on your hard drive. Normally, encryption is a great security measure IF YOU HAVE THE KEYS. This software encrypts your files and demands up to $300 for the keys to get your files back. Please note that people that would write this type of software are not likely to honour any deals.
This attack has already made the authors A LOT OF MONEY. Steve Gibson warns that this might be the beginning of a new family of threats from copy-cats.
If your computer gets this malware, your files are gone.
There is no way to recover your files. Also, because the scam tricks the user into installing the software, there is no antivirus protection from the threat at this time. This threat only affects Windows based PCs for now but is a very successful attack.
The attack tricks people into installing the software by directing users to a website that looks very similar to a site that you actually use or offers a download (usually through Email). The actual download will (at this time) appear to be a PDF file but will actually be an executable (possibly ending with “.exe”). Once this file is run, there is no getting your files back.
What You Can Do
- Follow the common advice to never install software that you were not explicitly meaning to install
- Do not follow links in Emails. If your bank contacts you, go directly to the bank’s website to log in as you would normally (as an example)
- Always have a BACKUP OF YOUR IMPORTANT FILES THAT IS NOT ON YOUR COMPUTER
- Be cautious of suspicious Emails or attachments. These people know how to cause fear, which leads to mistakes
- Practice general safe computing – prevention is your best cure