New Virus – (actually an old one, repackaged and made even more evil) – CryptoLocker(Ransomware) is out and about. According to just about everyone that you can read or find on the Net, it’s an evil thing.
First, when you get an email from someone that you don’t know – that has an attachment (usually a .PDF which is NOT a .PDF), you open it to see what your new (unknown) friend sent you….
This gets us to Rule #1:
DO NOT OPEN ATTACHMENTS FROM PEOPLE YOU DO NOT KNOW! and less commonly known – TURN OFF PREVIEW!
There are exceptions – bank stuff, college stuff (you can’t know everyone!) -but use your head, if you asked for information or joined a club or you have business with someone then it’s probably alright. However; if the file name is random, or non-nonsensical don’t open it. Call them, email them, and ask if they sent you something!
But I don’t have time for THAT! (You say, and it’s probably true)
Do you have time and money to rebuild your digital life? Before you say “um, yeah I guess..”, you really don’t want to have to go through that. Time for Rule #2:
BACK UP ALL YOUR STUFF THAT YOU CANNOT REPLACE, AND EVERYTHING ELSE ALSO. and also more lesser know BACK UP YOUR PHONE! (do you have ALL those numbers memorized?)
So, What I’m Saying….
How many GB of pictures do you have? Music? Spreadsheets, Documents, financial data? This sucker will infect your machine and encrypt all of it. Plus, (even more nasty) it will scan any mapped drives AND encrypt that stuff too! Here comes the fun part (for the (hackers). A screen will pop up and notify you that you have been encrypted and infected, and you have 72 hours to pay to unencrypted your stuff. That will cost you around $299. Usually.
You pay, they send you a key and you UN-encrypt your stuff. I have read that around 60% of the time this actually works. Also, 100% of the time that you don’t pay, you lose your stuff. It’s encryption, and they have the keys, and you can’t break it.
I’m not saying that you should pay – I don’t want them to make money – I’m saying that you need to protect yourself so you don’t have to. This is where a COMPREHENSIVE backup plan will save your Digital Life.
I just recently gave a short talk at the Prepare Fair 2013 for the Dallas County Medical Reserve Corp, the topic I spoke on was Tech Survival. The main gist of it was to back up all your important data – pictures, documents, etc., have digital copies of birth records, insurance records, etc, and save them locally AND remotely. (may be the CLOUD, may be a safe deposit box or a friend in Idaho). If there is a disaster and you need medical info, or insurance info, or something IMPORTANT, it will be gone when the tornado, hurricane, or other natural disaster takes out your subdivision. (remember: PEOPLE FIRST, tech second!)
I will post a link to some of the stuff later, that is not the point of this post. The point of this post is: THERE IS NO WAY TO UN-ENCRYPT YOUR STUFF WITHOUT BOTH SIDES OF THE KEY! Which they will give you when you pay. This leads to Rule #2a:
IF YOU HAVE IT ALL BACKED UP, YOU DO NOT HAVE TO PAY
Tech Disasters can happen because the lights blink, you drop your laptop, or spill coffee on it, the server goes down, YOU OPENED AN ATTACHMENT, etc. so it’s a good idea no matter what to do SOMETHING to save your stuff.
I am including a link to Bleeping Computer that has some great detail about CryptoLocker to give you some more info. Read it. More Importantly – Rule #3:
BACK UP YOUR STUFF!
And your phone, definitely your phone…..