Let’s start this by stating the obvious: Back up all your important files, NOW! Being more specific… Just backing up your files sounds simple enough but some aspects of correctly doing so are not so obvious… and if you are competent in doing so, it’s not likely to be the case for your neighbor, family member or co-worker. Please warn them and help them with the process.
Your files that really matter to you: Taxes, spreadsheets, the photos of dead Aunt Edna (referencing N.L.’s Family Vacation), the best resume you ever wrote… All should be manually copied over to an EXTERNAL hard drive AND that drive needs to be kept a safe distance from your PC. OK, viruses of the computer varieties cannot be transmitted by mere close proximity, but they are easily spread and conveyed and can be activated/launched/etc at any inopportune moment. In other words, DO NOT keep your backup drive, or your main backup drive, connected to any of your PC’s. This is for many reasons, but above all, is the fact that any connected drive, when infections launch, will likely suffer the same damage as your primary system drive.
The worst of these malwares, right now, seems to be the famed Crypto Locker, which does actually ‘lock’ your files away with monstrously effective encryption. This means you will NOT be able to open, access, edit, print your files. Even if you are fortunate enough to eradicate the actual infection and prevent its resurfacing, any damage previously done is essentially PERMANENT! Yikes and yikes again.
As of yet, there is no fix for this infestation. No antivirus application has been shown to be effective in prevention or removal. Articles about Crypto Locker really started to crop up in September of this year, 2013. Now, in late October, the stuff has really hit the fan.
The term Ransomeware refers to any malwayre which demands funds to correct, remove or unlock your system or files. In this case, Crypto Locked files will supposedly be unlocked for you, once the proof of payment is confirmed…..but don’t count on it. Check out this safe link from BleepingComputer:
Where do we pick up computer viruses? Well, the point of infection is almost an endless list. The old way, convincing the user to download, unzip and execute files, has been replaced by drive-by infestation… visiting a polluted website or following a seemingly innocent link to say a UPS tracking number.
Other common transports of malware are media files, such as music or video downloads. It is assumed that clicking boarder adds on popular sites, such as Facebook, can lead to infestation.
I cannot promise this posting will be followed with a later one, offering a comprehensive solution. Furthermore, I don’t know if the false comfort offered by that type of information would truly be helpful. Consider this a wake-up call for your own diligence in being prepared for a worst-case scenario.