Cryptolocker – a new virus that can destroy your files, even your backups, unless you pay them $/€/£300

This ransomware, called Cryptolocker, encrypts the files on your hard disk and any memory stick, external hard disk, or other storage device attached to your computer. This may include any online storage that you’re connected to. It then flashes up a warning saying your files have been encrypted and you can’t decrypt them unless you pay $300 / €300 / £300 for them to give you the decryption key. They give you a maximum of 36 hours to pay, or they destroy the key, and your files are lost forever.

A virus that extorts money from you is called ransomware.

This is a variant of the Metropolitan Police, FBI, and other types of ransomware that I have cleaned up for many clients. This one cannot be cleaned up though. Once your files have been encrypted, no-one can decrypt them without the correct decryption key.

It comes in usually through an email that have a link to a website or an attachment that you might click. It may appear to be from a friend, a bank, or anyone else. It wouldn’t surprise me if this link will be put on hacked Facebook accounts soon too. Once you click it, it executes a file and you’re infected. You pay up, or you lose your files.

If you reached this page by clicking a link on Facebook or in an email then you could have just infected yourself. You haven’t, but it’s that easy! Never click links in emails, or on Facebook or anywhere else! Go to your web browser and type in the www. name of the page you’re looking for, or google for it.

Antivirus won’t prevent infection (most of the time) because by clicking the link you run the software and most antivirus vendors don’t have protection against this yet. Let me make this clear, antivirus cannot clean this infection; it cannot decrypt your files without the decryption key! You can only get the decryption key from the scammers, and only within 36 hours of infection.

Your backups won’t help you if the backup device is connected when you get infected; they will encrypt the backups too.

Advice:

  • Never click links in emails
  • Have good backups, but don’t keep your backup device attached all the time. Only attach the backup device when you actually need to do a backup. Ask me about backup solutions.
  • Although it doesn’t help yet, have a good antivirus to prevent infection. Ask me about the one I recommend, it’s £20 one-off payment (no annual fees)

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