Well, this bad boy is just that bad, BAD, BAD! It has been out since the fall of 2013 and already has several variants. So, what does this mean? It means it’s hard to stop. Can I protect against it? Yes! Let me explain it:
What this virus does is it encrypts all of the files on your computer, including any external devices such as USB stick or USB drive, your multimedia NAS, your other computer you have shared. It pretty much tries to get it all. Then, when it is all finished encrypting your files the software asks you to pay $300 for the magic key to unlock your files. Oh, and you only have a finite amount of time to do that before they delete the key. Ransomware is what they call that. And no, you cannot get your file back any other way.
The anti virus companies can detect it and stop it. Please keep your anti virus up to date. But, as this virus is still evolving, they are not perfect.
So, what can you do to protect yourself even more? Several things. First, the original variant came in through email attachments. So, be cautious of the emails you open, especially the attachments.
The next iteration just uses a link embedded in the email message. So don’t click on any links you don’t really need to click on.
Also, it is now being spread though websites like those file sharing websites. Are you looking for a free copy of MS Office, or Adobe Photoshop? Not only is it illegal, but you may end up with Cryptolocker.
Ok, more prevention tips. Backup your files. I stress this to everyone I ever talk to about computers. If you just have one device, please keep it disconnected until you need to back things up. If it is connected, I certainly hope you are using a backup solution that has file versioning. Online backups are great, make sure the versioning is turned on with at least 3-10 versions. Why is this so important? If you backup your Cryptolocked file over the one on the backup system then what do you have? An encrypted version of the file you cannot do anything with. With versioning, if you do happen to backup your encrypted Cryptolocked files, then at least you can get back the previous version that actually works.
So, while I said this bad boy was bad, it is preventable or at least fightable. Please use some common sense on the internet, and checking emails. Keep your anti virus software up to date ($40 is cheap insurance). And backup your computer regularly with a system that does versioning.