CryptoLocker: What is it and how do you protect yourself?

There is an increasing number of reports about businesses being the victim of the CryptoLocker malware, but what exactly is it, is your business at risk and HOW do you protect yourself?

CryptoLocker is a type of malware (virus) which encrypts your files and then requires you to pay a ransom within a certain amount of time to get your files decrypted.

Research analysts have claimed that due to the complexity of the encryption used it would be near impossible to attempt to recover files encrypted by CryptoLocker yourself. As a result, many businesses who did not have a suitable backup strategy in place have been forced to pay the ransom to recover their files – which at last report was USD $300.

The malware is typically spread via an email attachment. The attachment is usually a ZIP file which appears to contain a PDF document, however this file is actually an executable which when run infects the computer, encrypting files on the local computer as well as any network drives.

Once your files are encrypted CryptoLocker displays a ransom message on your computer screen to tell you that your files have been encrypted and begins a countdown timer. If you fail to pay the ransom before the countdown ends the recovery fee goes from USD $300 to over USD $3,500!

So how do you safeguard your business against this threat?

  1. Make sure you backup every day! Use a backup solution that allows you to keep multiple versions of your data for an extended period of time, whether that be an online backup service or some form of portable media (tape, hard-drive, USB, etc).
  2. Consider blocking ZIP file attachments in emails. Encourage the use of systems like YouSendIt and DropBox for the distribution of files instead of email.
  3. Be careful opening attachments! In all my years I’ve seen more instances where someone working in the accounts department of a company has inadvertently opened an email attachment or clicked a link in an email they were sent than in any other area of the business – and the worst part is that staff in your accounts department usually have access to just about everything!!

If you’re unsure whether your current backup strategy could withstand a hit by CryptoLocker then please Contact Us immediately on (07) 5539-6116. 

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