What is Cryptolocker?

Cryptolocker is a type of malware, malicious software intended to harm your computer, called ransomware that first showed up in 2013. This particular virus looks for files on your computer or any attached media – USB memory sticks, shared drives, or external hard drives, for example – to encrypt.

This Trojan horse primarily targets computers running windows. Once your files have been “locked” through a two-pronged process known as asymmetric encryption, where the only way to decrypt your data is through a unique key held by the hacker, the cryptolocker virus will begin displaying messages on your computer warning you that your data will be deleted unless you pay a ransom.

Shortly after you’ve downloaded the virus, you’ll receive one of those gut-wrenching alerts letting you know your machine has been infected and a timer will appear counting down until your files are deleted.

The method by which this virus facts your computer ensures that only the hacker can decrypt your data and makes it virtually impossible to recover forensically. Once infected, users have few options to recover their data and are left with the difficult choice of giving into the hacker’s demands.

Protecting yourself from this form of malware attack is crucial. And having people like the experts at Advanced Network Professionals on your side can give you more confidence that you have options to defend your information and fight back.

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Common Types of Cryptolocker

Though the ends results are the same, you may fall prey to the cryptolocker ransomware attack in a few different ways. It’s important to note that this virus must be downloaded to infect your computer, so avoiding all suspicious websites or email attachments is a major first step in self-protection.

The most common way your computer becomes infected with cryptolocker is in fact through harmless looking email attachments. Often, they’ll appear as a regular *.doc or PDF, but contain a hidden *.exe file that installs itself on your computer once you downloaded the attachment.

You might also pick up this malware from a website that prompts you to download a plug-in or video player. Clicking on drive-by ads, those flashy images that appear on the side of your browser, can also open the gate for ransomware if you’re not careful. Hackers are expert at hiding in plain sight.

For companies with remote employees who access their server via a Remote Desk Protocol (RDP), there’s a risk that you’re opening yourself up to attack as well. Savvy hackers can exploit weaknesses in your firewall, make themselves an administrator of your network, and hold your data for ransom.

Ways to Get Decrypted Without Paying the Ransom

With your personal or business information at risk, falling victim to these kinds of attacks can make one feel powerless. For many people who are affected, their first instinct is to pay the ransom.

But this is rarely the best first option if a good option at all. More often than not, around 80% of the time, paying the ransom does not result in the victim recovering his or her data. Whether the hacker is simply unable or unwilling to, you run a great rest in spending money and still having nothing to show for it.

And, even worse, paying a hacker the ransom that they are demanding can incentivize them to hack you again.

Before paying a ransom, find any available backups of your data. Great personal practice for individual users as well as large companies to back up their data regularly. This will make it easier to recover from an attack.

If this fails or is not an option, there are a number of decryption tools available for free that you should consider. Some of these tools are relatively user friendly and others require at higher level of tech savvy. But taking the time to combat this ransomware attack through decryption tools may save you money not to mention help you get your data back.

How to Pay the Ransom

So what do you do if your defenses fail and your backup plan to restore your data is unsuccessful? If you feel like you've exhausted your options, and the breached data is both vital and not backed up properly, you may consider paying the ransom and hope that the hackers are honorable thieves and return your data.

As the cryptolocker name suggests, it will require cryptocurrency too pay for the removal of any ransomware. You'll want to use a reputable Bitcoin exchange, providing you with as much security and comfort as possible when you make your transaction.

Some hackers are beginning to move away from Bitcoin in favor of newer, lesser known exposed cryptocurrencies. Victims of ransomware should pay close attention to messages received from their hackers, especially if they have determined to pay the ransom.

Because time is of the essence and often files are deleted in stages to further terrorize victims and incentivize payments, it’s a smart idea for those who worry about succumbing to this kind of attack to have an active cryptocurrency wallet in case quick action is needed.

How ANP Can Help You

When it comes to fighting cryptolocker and other harmful ransomware, prevention is much better than recovery. If you can keep your company from falling victim to a hacker, you will save yourself a lot of time and frustration.

This is where entrusting your security to ANP can make all the difference. Our team of experts is trained to spot weaknesses in your system before they become costly problems. Our penetration testing will identify key assets that are at risk, threats to your company and data, as well as potential threat agents who might seek to do you harm.

We think like hackers and act proactively in your best interest, so you can avoid having to react because of a crisis.

Do you know the last time your network was audited? No matter the size of your IT infrastructure, it must remain reliable or you’re putting your entire operation at risk. An ANP technology audit will ensure that your systems run the way they should, and hackers won’t be able to penetrate them.

Whether you’re a brand-new company or an established business looking to function more optimally, our network of professionals can help you create a blueprint for your IT success, so you can avoid pitfalls and focus on what matters most to you with confidence.

Ready to get started? Contact us today. We’d love to answer your questions and give you the peace of mind that comes with knowing your valuable data and life’s work is secure.

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