Javalot Jive

Nov 11, 2013

CryptoLocker Hits Hard - Pay up or lose encrypted photos and more! How to Protect Yourself!

If you see this on your desktop, unfortunately, it's too late and files on your computer and any connected or networked devices are already encrypted. 

If you don't already have this warning poping up with the countdown, the CryptoLocker could be on your computer. The only way to protect yourself is to backup your computer. 

The US CERT (US Computer Emergency Readiness Team) has issued an official warning about the seriousness of this virus:

How is CryptoLocker getting on your system? Even with anti-virus protection, this virus is sophisticated enough to bypass everything and dig in, silently encrypting photos, documents and untold other items on your computer. Then, letting you know what it's done with the popup that demands a ransom.

More info about CryptoLocker on Wikipedia:

Once the files are encrypted - there is no way to get them back without paying the ransom - or restoring from a back up.

Now, knowing what files have been encrypted on your computer has been made easier than opening every single file: Dayton IT Support has created a small free program that will scan for encrypted files and list them in an excel .csv file.

How to protect yourself against CryptoLocker? Bottom line: DO NOT CLICK ON LINKS OR OPEN ZIP FILES FROM EMAILS.

CryptoLocker is being delivered via email, in zip files and disguised links that are made to look like legitimate items such as package delivery notices from UPS or the US Post Office, or something random like a zip file called "Report" or "Invoices". Plus, what makes it even sneakier is that the emails are being "spoofed", which means the email looks like it's coming from your company network administrator ("") or from eFax, UPS, USPS and so on.

Right now, it's not safe to click on a link that looks like it came from you Great-Aunt Nelda - actually, you should never click on anything she forwards to you without scanning it first.

That's the first step in protecting yourself: DON'T CLICK ON SOMETHING YOU'RE NOT CERTAIN OF WHERE IT CAME FROM.

Next, backup your computer and even create an image of it, so you can restore it if anything should happen.

Backing up and creating an image of your computer is not rocket surgery, and you don't need to purchase additional programs if you're using Windows 7 or 8. Here's the step-by-step instruction on how to backup and create an image provided by How To Geek

Do you share your computer with others in a home? Perhaps, your kids, grandpa, a roommate. Okay, to protect yourself not only against the virus, but others accidentally getting the virus on your computer: create user accounts for those other people using your computer, and make those accounts "limited". This prevents any installation purposeful or accidental that can affect the computer's system files - in other words, nothing damaging can be installed. 

Here on the Microsoft website is more info on how to create user accounts:

I hope this article helps some, and will post more in depth info as time permits... Right now, I'm not just the blogger, but a Network Admin dealing with an infected laptop that was connected to the network... yep. And already, we're finding encrypted files not only on the laptop, but our network, as well as our parent company's network share - an ocean away.

Do you need help? If so, don't hesitate to post a comment asking a question.


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