New malware steals your files forever
The scariest part of the new virus is there is no fix, so it's crucial to avoid getting it in the first place.
This post comes from Deena Coffman at partner site Credit.com.
An especially nasty form of ransomware -- known as CryptoLocker -- was recently discovered, and it puts computer users at risk of losing their files forever.
In most forms of ransomware, infected computers "freeze" and essentially are held hostage until a ransom is paid. Perhaps the best-known and most widespread scheme is false messages claiming to be from the FBI, accusing computer users of watching child porn or some other illegal online activity. A “fine” is demanded to unfreeze the computer.
That and other types of ransomware usually can be fixed -- though sometimes a professional using specialized software is necessary.
There is nothing new about ransomware -- different forms of it have been circulating since 1989 -- but in recent weeks Internet security firms have reported a surge in computers affected. Once CryptoLocker infiltrates your computer, it encrypts your files -- making them unreadable and permanently unusable unless you decrypt them with the attacker’s "private key," which is unlikely to happen even if you part with the demanded ransom.
Currently, infected users are instructed (via the displayed warning) to pay $300 to receive this private key within 100 hours or "the server will destroy the (private) key," warns a pop-up that freezes your computer, and "nobody and never will be able to restore files."
Although anti-virus experts are hard at work, currently there is no fix. And while techies can often remove ransomware that simply freezes computers, encrypted files are trickier. So an off-computer backup of files -- such as a USB drive -- can be good insurance.
Since there’s no guarantee (or even evidence) that paying the demanded ransom will retrieve files from infected computers, it’s also wise to follow these to avoid this situation in the first place. That means:
- Don’t click on email attachments unless you know the sender and what the attachments are.
- Be careful when surfing on music sites or doing online searches of celebrities or other in-the-news topics. They often lead to malware-laden websites or links.
- Avoid online offers for screen savers, games and the like unless downloaded from reputable vendor websites.
- Scan your computer using anti-virus software (from a known provider) regularly, and keep its updates and patches up to date. (Malware often masquerades as anti-virus scanning software, so make sure you are using a reputable anti-virus software.)
- Make regular backups, and store them somewhere safe, preferably offline.
More from Credit.com
- Identity theft: What you need to know
- 4 ways identity theft can affect your credit
- 10 free ways to protect your identity
Best thing is to use pc when paying for bill under " In Private " setting. Change your passwords monthly which may seem hard, but in fact is not. Look at it this way, How many items people have scan at the groceries stores every month using the bar code or UPC? Quite a few, Right? so, why not use UPC or Bar Codes as passwords and change them every month. Just add few extra characters to make it unique for your use. Keep files in a large flash drive and also have a Windows Software Program handy to re format if its needed in case a back up flash drive is not available. Always go to tools logo in your upper right corner and open the window to choose delete browsing history and delete all browsing cookies as well. Choose your privacy level and Security level. Don't forget to scan your computer using quick scan prior to make a bank transaction and change your bank password monthly.
The possibilities of using Bar Codes as passwords are endless. You can find a bar code from a can of tomato sauce or even in a jug of 1 gallon milk or even in a empty box of U-Haul. Also keep a log of all passwords as they get change in a note pad. Why? when doing a recovery with an specific date, as you try to login you need to remember the last password use during that specific time. For example, let say your pc needs a recover, but let's say today is December 18, 2013 and you want to recover your pc to an earlier time. The earlier time let's say its July 22, 2013, you may need to use the password that was use from July 1, 2013 thru July 30, 2013, if not you may not be able to enter the pc or login if using the password of the last date of December 18, 2013. Good luck folks, and have a good day or night!
This happened to me last weekend. That will be the day when I pay $300 for you to unlock my
computer after you have locked it.
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