For those that haven’t seen about this in the news there is a fairly new, ever evolving virus currently affecting computers. This virus uses a high level of encryption to encrypt your personal files on your computer and demands that you pay to have these files returned to you.
This type of virus is called Ransomware and is quickly spreading across the internet. Ransomware has been around for about 10 years now but has been becoming more and more common lately. The most popular version of Ransomware currently infecting computers is called Cryptowall 2.0. CryptoWall is a file-encrypting ransomware program that was released around the end of April 2014 that targets all versions of Windows including Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, and Windows 8 & 8.1. There is currently no way to reverse the damage caused by this virus other than taking the risk of paying the “ransom”. From a professional standpoint, paying this ransom is extremely risky and leaves no guarantee that your files will be returned to you. However there are people that have reported their files being returned after paying the ransom. Remember, these aren’t exactly the most honest people that made this virus.
Below is an example of the windows you will see if your computer becomes infected.
So the big question – how do you prevent your computer from getting the Cryptowall virus?
1. Make regular backups of all of your important files onto a flash drive or external hard drive. After backing up your files disconnect the drive from your computer. Leaving the drive connected allows it to be infected as well.
2. Make sure your computer has proper security in place. There are many antivirus programs out there but not all of them are equal. Do your research before selecting one or bring your computer to a professional to have the proper security installed.
3. Use common sense when opening emails. If you have any doubt about the content of an email, do not open it. Many times it is better to call the person that sent you an unexpected email to ensure they attached the included files or links themselves prior to opening them.
4. Be careful of which websites you visit. Currently Cryptowall 2.0 is mainly acquired through email but has still been seen to be acquired through websites sporadically.
As always, I can not stress enough the importance of regular backups of your private and important data. Catastrophic losses can easily be prevented by using standard backups with a flash drive or external hard drive.
Please check back for any further updates to this growing infection.