Cryptolocker – holds your computer to ransom.

The latest cybercrime sweeping the internet

In the last few years there’s been a lot of talk about a new type of cybercrime spinning its way around the internet called Cryptolocker.

Cryptolocker is a vicious kind of program known as ransomware which effectively takes your computer ransom by sweeping through your computer, encrypting every file you own and rendering them completely useless. This could mean your family photos, your work documents and even that big novel you’ve been working on could be taken hostage until you pay the price. This is when the cybercrooks demand payment in return for unlocking your files.

So how does it attack?

Malware such as Cryptolocker often gets sent as an email that might look legitimate and genuine, it might even be sent from an email address that looks like it should belong to your bank but the moment you open it your computer becomes infected.

Should you pay up to get unlocked?

This is a tough decision that only you can make but general advice is not to pay. If you are a victim of Cryptolocker then the temptation will be high to pay and get your documents back but remember, the people you’d be dealing with are crooks and making the payment doesn’t mean they will unlock anything but it certainly tells them you’d be willing to pay again in the future.

So what can you do about it?

Fortunately Cryptolocker can be removed from your computer with antivirus software but any files that were affected by the encryption cannot be recovered without the encryption key that only the crooks have.
It’s a good idea to always keep your files backed up on an external hard drive that you don’t regularly keep connected to your main computer (as if it’s connected during infection then your hard drive could become infected too).
With an external back-up, if your computer does get infected and your files taken, you still have them.

How can you help avoid infection?

There are a lot of ways to help keep yourself safe from ransomware such as Cryptolocker which includes everything from the aforementioned external back-up of your personal files to making sure that your computer operating system and security is always up to date.

For more information, read The Guardian article which gives you 10 ways to beat Cryptolocker here