With Christmas fast approaching, it’s the time of year that online scammers, spammers and hijackers send themselves into overdrive mode.
Christmas is such an important time of year for many of our businesses, especially those in e-commerce who need to deal with the festive spike, so hackers know it is a good time to strike.
One of the nastiest online threats around has sadly reared it’s ugly head again this year, and has affected some of our customers.
It is a particularly horrible piece of ransomware called Crypto Locker, which is infecting Windows computers around the world, and has been since September 2013.
It is delivered in email form, and tricks recipients into opening the email by pretending to be from a legitimate company. Those who download the zip file inside it unintentionally allow Crypto Locker to control their computers. Crypto Locker then holds your computer hostage and leaves you with one choice: pay a set amount of ransom money or lose everything on your hard drive.
Once the virus has taken hold, there is horribly little you can do, but we do have a couple of suggestions that could help.
Infected computers will display a warning notice (from the virus) that tells you not to “disconnect from the Internet or turn off your computer”. Funnily enough, this is exactly what you should do, as if the virus is still in the process of infecting your files, unplugging your computer may save some them.
Next, find out which files you have lost to assess the extent of the damage. Check whether you have backups of these, which could be in your ‘Windows System Restore’ files. Make sure there is nothing missing that you absolutely need and don’t have access to anywhere else. Hopefully you will find everything essential to you, as paying the ransom to get them back will only encourage more malware of this sort to be created.
If you do have a backup, you should wipe your computer of the virus by running your antivirus software, as virtually every version will get rid of Crypto Locker. Next you can restore your backup and sigh a huge sigh of relief.
If you do not have backups, and you have no other way of accessing important files, there is little you can do but pay the ransom.
There are however a number of copycat viruses around which show up asking for money even though your computer isn’t infected. So if you do think your computer may be infected, ask an expert before paying anyone anything!
To prevent an attack, make sure you are careful with any email you receive and don’t open it if you can’t figure out who it is from or why they may be emailing you. Back up all of your personal and business files regularly, and run up to date anti-virus software regularly.
Be really careful with any email you receive, don’t download or open any attachments before being absolutely sure what they are.
If you are still unsure of your options, give us a call on 0845 468 2369 and we can discuss the virus, precautions you should take and anti-virus software.