Cryptolocker Infections and Prevention

Cryptolocker has been in the news for a while, but it is still a threat. There are some things you can do to protect your computer and data.

What is Cryptolocker

Cryptolocker is ransom-ware. It infects your computer, encrypts your files, and then prompts you to pay a ransom in order to get the password to unencrypt them. Reports vary as to whether people who pay the ransom ever get access to their data again, but law enforcement recommends against paying it.

How do you get infected?

Cryptolocker usually travels through file attachments, so it’s important to be extra vigilant on what you open from email. Before opening any file attachment, ask yourself these questions:

  1. Is the email from someone I know? If not, delete the email and don’t open the attachment.
  2. Am I expecting this particular attachment? If not, don’t open the attachment. Call the sender and find out if he/she sent this to you. The sender’s email may be compromised, and the file attachment may be infected.

What else can you do?

  • Ensure that critical files are stored on network drives so that they are backed up.
  • For personal devices, back up important files frequently so you don’t lose data in the event of an infection.
  • Make sure you are running up-to-date antivirus protection.  This is automatic for your work computer, but you should also do so on your home computers.
  • Make sure your operating system and browser are up-to-date. Again, this happens at work automatically, but you should do this at home as well.

As always, if you're unsure about an attachment, please contact IT.

Further Reading

Cryptolocker: what you need to know

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