Top Computer Tip for 2014

Back it up every day and far away


As we enter 2014 a new form of malware attack is making its way around the Internet. Its name is Cryptolocker. It has me and every tech I know worried. It should worry you too because once it strikes there is no known way to defeat it.

As defined by Wikipedia: “CryptoLocker is a ransomware trojan which targets computers running Microsoft Windows. CryptoLocker may come from various sources such a disguised email attachment.”

Once you execute the attachment, this ransomware will encrypt certain files on your computer, attached drives and across your network- usually the ones that mean the most to you - using a mixture of RSA & AES encryption . When done, explains Bleeping Computer, a tech support site, “it will display a CryptoLocker payment program that prompts you to send a ransom of either $100 or $300 in order to decrypt the files. This screen will also display a timer stating that you have 72 hours, or 4 days, to pay the ransom or it will delete your encryption key and you will not have any way to decrypt your files. This ransom must be paid using MoneyPak vouchers or Bitcoins. Once you send the payment and it is verified, the program will decrypt the files that it encrypted.” At least it has so far, anyway.

Most of the folks I hear from expect, or perhaps fear, that CyberLocker and similar attacks will become more frequent and pervasive in the future. And why shouldn't they? So far, business has been good, grossing an estimated $30 million dollars in the last quarter of 2013 alone. Once they have you they really have you! Your only option, after you have been attacked is to pay up and pay up quickly or kiss you documents, data and whatever you hold dear that they have encrypted good-by.

Of course you do have other options BEFORE you get attacked. You can back up your stuff off your computer and away from your network and attached storage. If you are a client of mine and have been following my advice you are already using an automatic cloud backup service, like Carbonite. Your important files are automatically being continuously backed up...safely and securely hidden from the ravages of Cryptolocker and the like...outside the building. So, relax, we're good!

If you are still not using Carbonite maybe you better start saving your Bitcoin. You could need them.