Perhaps you have heard of CryptoLocker, the relatively new form of malware that has infected the web. It has even coined its own category of malware: ransomware. And a ransom it is – if you happen to be stumble across this nasty virus, you will be met with a message demanding a fee that is usually in the range of $200 in order to decode your data, which has just been hijacked and encrypted with a 1024 bit key code, which in plain English means that it’s nearly impossible to crack. It is so complex, in fact, that even if you decide to pay the ransom, it takes the blackmailer about a full day in order to find the correct key code to send to you (if they decide to send it at all). It will usually be accompanied by a sinister, degrading and sometimes incriminating message:
The virus, as usual, only targets platforms running Microsoft Windows, and surfaced onto the internet in September of 2013. It replicates itself via email attachments, and encrypts files using RSA public key cryptography. CryptoLocker, the original virus that established ransomware, has been neutralized during Operation Tovar when a security firm obtained all of the private keys used to CryptoLocker to seal away files. Afterwards,who had been infected with the virus could send over their encrypted files and get a key in return. Although this effectively stamped out Cryptolocker, it hasn’t stopped from imitators of the ransomware from surfacing on the web. In 2013 alone, CryptoLocker was responsible for $27 million in damages.
The biggest question is obviously how to protect yourself against this new form of threat, and the answer is simple: backup your files. CryptoLocker and its variants cannot infect offline storage, such as an external drive or cloud storage, and you don’t need to pay to recover that which you already have. So remember, like we say here at Eboxlab: always back up!