Protecting your files against Cryptolocker

Several newspapers and tech sites have covered the Cryptolocker virus over the past few days. One newspaper stated that we all have ‘two weeks to save [our] computers’. So what is Cryptolocker and how can you protect your PC?virus-300x225

What is Cryptolocker?
Cryptolocker is a computer virus that encrypts your files, stopping you from viewing or editing them. The virus is thought to have first appeared about 10 months ago and targets Windows XP, Vista, 7 and 8 machines. Users with Apple Mac computers, smart phones or non-Windows based tablets are not targeted by the virus.
Some of the computers which have been infected by Cryptolocker display a countdown time that offers the user the ability to decrypt their files for a fee, however there is no guarantee that your files will actually be decrypted after you pay.
There is also another virus called ‘GameOver Zeus’ which appears to be created by the same team. This gives criminals a backdoor into your computer and is one of the ways that a computer can be infected with Cryptolocker.
At the moment there is no other way to decrypt the files. This means that you will lose your precious photos, important documents and any music and video once they have been infected if you don’t have a backup copy.

How many users have been infected?
The Guardian reports that 50,000 UK computers have been infected so far. Livedrive has already been contacted by several customers who have been infected and if the news reports are to be believed, this number is likely to rise in the near future.
The Guardian has also reported that the law enforcement agencies, ISPs, and anti-virus companies are working together to stop infected computers from passing the virus on. They believe they have been able to stop the virus from working correctly for approximately two weeks. This means that the virus would be on your computer but it wouldn’t encrypt your files during this time. It is thought that the virus will continue its path of destruction and continue encrypting files after this period.

How can I protect myself against Cryptolocker?
We would suggest that you do the following things to make sure you do not lose your files:
1) Don’t open emails or download attachments which are from unknown sources. We would also suggest being extra vigilant with suspicious emails which appear to come from friends, colleagues or businesses you are usually in contact with.
2) Backing up your files will give you a chance to save files which have been infected by the virus. It is vital that your backup product is automatic and keeps multiple iterations of your files.
3) Update Windows with the latest version of the operating system when Microsoft releases an updates.
4) Make sure you have antivirus software installed on your computer that is up to date, with the latest virus information.
5) Make sure you have anti malware software installed (We recommend Malwarebytes antimalware – Premium Version around $30) on your computer that is up to date, with the latest virus information.

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