As they say on TV “It could happen in an instant”.

We recently received a disturbing call from a very concerned individual whose computer was infected by a particularly sinister virus. The individual had received a shocking threat demanding $400 be paid within 40 hours or he would experience the permanent loss of all user data: pictures, documents, etc.

Your response to reading this scenario may be, “Is this actually possible?” Yes.

The computer in question was infected by the so-called “CryptoLocker virus” which is only one example of a type of malware which centers on extortion. How does it happen? In a number of ways, but often the system infection occurs when the computer user opens an attachment to a phony email (an email which looks surprisingly legitimate) and in so doing, installs encryption software.

The scheme is terribly unfair and cruel. Yes, this is extortion. Yes, this is definitely illegal. The perpetrators deal in hard-to-trace payments. These attacks likely do not originate from within the U.S., making them difficult to trace.

For additional information please see the Department of Homeland Security, United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team webpage on this issue:

So what can be done? As always, prevention is your best ally.

 Some important preventative measures:

  1. Antivirus software / Firewall – These systems help to keep out unwanted software and communication. No business would store valuable items unsecured. How are you protecting your critical files?
  2. Backup – Should your computer become infected, you would probably like to be able to recover all of your files without making ransom payments. Make sure that your backup is protected from the crippling encryption attack.
  3. Email Filtering / Caution – As the normal attack vector for this virus is often email, be cautions of email and email attachments. Use technology to help insure safety.
  4. Patches – Up-to-date software is normally more difficult for the bad guys to defeat.

Interested in improving and protecting your business network? We have many solutions available which can be customized to fit your specific needs.

Contact us – we’re here to help. To learn more, click Here


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