The Cryptolocker Virus – Your Worst Possible (Digital) Nightmare
The Cryptolocker is a virus that attacks and encrypts all your files with encryption so strong that it would take the world’s most powerful computers 100 years to crack the encryption key. This Trojan malware is very discreet, and often, you will never notice until all your files are encrypted. Once it gains access into your network, it attacks almost everything from your desktop, laptop, and all shared network files including dropbox and cloud services – This also may include any connected devices like memory cards, and USB storage devices. The target victims are usually large data processing organizations, but the risk is there for everyone that has an online connection to the internet.
Furthermore, the Trojan virus singles out the Microsoft Windows operating system. If you are on an Apple Mac system, you are slightly safer for now. In ensuring stealth in its operation, the hackers gain access to the security wall of your network. Then the virus locks the files that can be encrypted. The asymmetric encryption then disables your data through a public key. Upon completion, the hackers demand a bitcoin ransom to decrypt the coding through a private key. Similarly, the Trojan virus keeps sending warning reminders of a possible loss of files if you delay in buying the private key from the hackers.
Breaching the Security Walls
Surprisingly, the hackers can easily pass your security wall through emails, attachment downloads, and file sharing sites. Again, you can fall victim to a Cryptolocker attack through videos and other plug-ins from unsecured websites or blogs. The files in email attachments appear as regular files. For instance, they may be doc or pdf. Unknown to you, they do have an extension.
Once you open the files, the Trojan virus downloads in your drive. When this is happening, your computer goes on with its normal operations. You can only discover when your files are locked and encrypted. After the mission is through, hackers send in reminders of deleting your data if you do not pay up the bitcoins for the key. Most of the reminders have a countdown clock for the warning.
Ideally, you can remove the Trojan virus from your computer system with many antivirus programs available. The catch here is, only the private key can decrypt the files. In the long run, most people resort to a more natural way out. They pay the ransom for the private key. Once the data is decrypted, they scan and delete the malware.
In protecting your computer network from hackers, you are the first line of defence. Yes, you may be getting a lot of traffic in your email. If you do not have a secure firewall, do not open email attachments from doubtful sources. This also extends to unfamiliar blogs, websites, or financial institutions. It is good to second confirm an email by calling the source if you were not expecting anything.
Again, scan all the emails and attachments that you get before opening them. The Rescue Utility Disk is the best option for starters. It helps you to copy data to a USB drive or other storage outside the shared drive. In case of any malfunctioning, you can still reboot your system through your external media. By doing this, you sanitize the computer of any virus.
Cryptolocker is a nightmare for any precious data you have. It is prudent to have reliable offline back up of your valuable files.
If you have been affected by the virus or know someone that has please leave a comment below.
Written by John Pititto on 08/11/2019.