Ransomware has turned into a major problem for computer users. In fact, I have warned you of various ransomware scams five times in just the last year. You can find information about these previous ransomware scams by putting in the key word “ransomware” into the archives of Scamicide if you want to read about previous ransomware scams and what you can do about them. Ransomware is the name for a scam that starts when you find your compute frozen and a message on your screen tells you that your computer will remain frozen until you pay a “ransom.” The ransom is generally required to be paid by a MoneyPak card or some other type of money card that is impossible to trace or stop payment on.
The latest ransomware scam is called Cryptolocker and what distinguishes this particular scam is that when this particular malware is downloaded by you on to your computer, laptop or other device, it encrypts all of your files, making them unreadable by you unless you pay the ransom, generally $300. This makes Cyrptolocker technologically more difficult to defend. In return for the payment you are told you will receive the private key necessary to retrieve your files. Unfortunately, even people who have paid the ransom have found that the hacker responsible never provides the key and their files were effectively lost forever.
As with many types of malware, you download it when you click on tainted links or tainted attachments, which is why I always warn you not to click on any links or download attachments unless you are absolutely sure that they are legitimate. In many instances, it has been found that Cryptolocker has come as hidden malware in a phony email purporting to be from Federal Express or UPS. As we approach the holiday shopping season, you can expect an upswing in people falling for this scam and clicking on links and downloading attachments in emails for these companies related to holiday shopping.
The best way to deal with Cryptolocker is to avoid it in the first place. Have a good firewall, good anti-virus and good anti-malware software installed on your computer, tablet or other devices and keep the software up to date. However, remember that the security software companies are always playing catchup with the hackers, so your security software will not always protect you. Also, you should always back up everything on your computer either in the Cloud or on a USB drive. Finally, never click on links or download attachments unless you are absolutely positive that they are legitimate and the only way to do this is to confirm that they are legitimate with the real companies you think may be sending you the email before ever clicking on a link or downloading an attachment.