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Important Info on the CryptoLocker virus

Pacific Office Equipment wants to alert our customers about a new, particularly vicious form of malware infecting computers.

The malware is called “CryptoLocker” which, as the name suggests, locks files with encryption. Like many viruses, CryptoLocker is spread as an email attachment and they try tricking you into thinking the malware is from a legitimate company or source. Once running on your system it will encrypt your files with an extremely strong algorithm. They will give you the key to unlocking your files, but only if you pay money (often $300 to $400) in untraceable digital accounts within three days. Otherwise they will destroy the key and your files will remain encrypted.

Pacific Office Equipment does have technicians that can remove viruses, malware and ransomware. However, decrypting your files from CryptoLocker is nearly impossible. Paying the ransom leaves you open for other attacks, and may not get your files back anyway. The best offensive is actually having a good defensive. There are several steps to prevent this, and other viruses, malware and ransomware…

First and foremost, make certain your operating system, browser and antivirus are all up to date. Computer viruses often exploit holes in software. There are regular updates to Windows, Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome and other programs.

Second, keep backups of all your important documents. CryptoLocker has spread across networks, so it’s not effective to back up to the server.  It’s best to have a cloud-based backup system, such as POE’s Syncrify, or an external hard drive that is not connected to the computer except when the backup is running. You can set the backup to occur on a regular basis, weekly or daily if you can will prevent important data from being lost. However, if your data is infected or encrypted, stop the backup schedule immediately so your infected data doesn’t overwrite the good versions.

If you use a cloud backup, call them after the infection is cleared and let them know you’d been infected. Cloud-based backups often have redundancies built in. Even if your files in the cloud were infection, they may be able to restore to a version before the virus hit.

Third, remain paranoid when online. Don’t follow links in emails. Modern browser often have ways of showing the “true address” of a link. For example, say you receive an email claiming to be from your bank with a link to login. On the current versions of Firefox, Chrome and Internet Explorer, hovering over the link will trigger an address to appear in the lower left corner. If your bank is First Federal or Strait View and the address is then the link is leading you to another site than your bank.

If you receive an attachment from a friend, scan the attachment before opening or running with up-to-date antivirus. Contact list hijacks are common, so your friend may not have sent the file willingly. If you receive an attachment from a complete stranger it’s best to treat it extremely suspect.




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