'CryptoLocker' Takes Your Digital Life Hostage

Dennis Faas's picture

The newest and most frightening threat on the web is the 'CryptoLocker' ransomware, which allows cybercriminals to take control of your digital life and then offer it back to you for a fee. Thankfully, there are ways to prevent an infection.

Like many other infections, CryptoLocker is most often spread through malicious email attachments. However, the malware can also be deployed through malicious pages on websites and compromised browser plugins.

According to reports, a CryptoLocker infection allows cybercriminals to "scramble" all of you important files -- from images to Word documents to video files and MP3s.

Bitcoin Ransom Follows Infection

Until you pay the cybercriminals behind the infection a ransom (which can range from $100 to $300 in Bitcoins), the files remain unusable.

Shockingly, it appears the crooks behind CryptoLocker are actually following through with the deal and not simply pocketing the money without restoring access to the files. (Source: yahoo.com)

However, it's not clear if that kind of behaviour will continue.

San Diego, California-based computer security expert Johnny Kessel recently described a CryptoLocker attack on a colleague.

"This thing hit ... pretty much all the file extensions that are usable, from MP3s to Word docs," Kessel said. "About the only thing it didn't touch were system files and .exe's ... Once the infection happens, it can even [spread] from someone on a home PC [using a VPN] to access their work network, and for me that's the most scary part."

Special Toolkits Can Prevent CryptoLocker Infection

But, there are ways to prevent being infected with CryptoLocker. For one, avoid opening email attachments from strangers and take care when visiting new and unknown websites. That's obvious. (Source: krebsonsecurity.com)

But there are other preventive tools. First, there's a new CryptoLocker Prevention Kit from enterprise consulting company Thirdtier.net. The free toolkit can be used to immunize your system against a possible infection.

Click here to access a page where you can download Thirdtier's prevention kit.

Another useful tool is CryptoPrevent, a new utility from North Carolina consulting firm Foolish IT (previously featured in our freeware section). CryptoPrevent carries out many of the same functions as the Thirdtier toolkit and can be accessed on the Foolish IT website by clicking here.

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