Malicious software can be a real problem for both individuals and organizations. Cyber attacks cost businesses millions of dollars every year, and the developers of malicious software are always looking for new ways to exploit security weaknesses.
In recent years, a type of malware known as “cryptolocker” has been causing problems for all sorts of organizations. If a program like cryptolocker finds its way into your network, it could cause a serious disruption to your operation.
What is Cryptolocker?
Cryptolocker is a type of malicious software that fits into the broader category of ransomware. With ransomware, the intent of the malicious software is to render a computer network inoperable or to encrypt data on the network with the intent of demanding a ransom for restored access. Cryptolocker was first identified by the security community back in 2013, and since then, it has taken in millions of dollars worth of ransom.
It is a ransomware of the variety that encrypts the files on a machine or network. Once the software activates, it encrypts the files on the system. It uses a multi-layered encryption that is next to impossible to unlock, and the owner of the system can only regain access to the data by using a password that they can get by paying a ransom to the criminals that are behind the attack.
How Does it Attack?
This ransomware can infect a computer in a number of ways, but the most common method of infiltration is through spoofed emails. Essentially, emails come looking like they are from a legitimate and trusted source, but they are really fakes. Emails claiming to be from USPS are some of the more common that have been used in this type of ransomware attack.
The emails will come to your mailbox claiming that you have a missed package or as an alert for a service that you might be interested in. It will also include files that you are prompted to download, and this is how the software is introduced to the machine.
While these social engineering style attacks using emails are the most common, the ransomware can also enter the computer through peer-to-peer networks and by way of drive-by download. With a drive-by download, all you have to do is visit an infected site, and the cryptolocker files will start downloading in the background.
Once the files are on the computer, it can then connect to the cryptolocker server and start the process of encrypting the files on your computer. It will send the private key back to the server, and that is the only tool that can unlock your files. It will then inform the user that the files have been encrypted and set a deadline for payment. If the deadline is not met, the key will be destroyed and the files will be lost forever.
How to Protect Yourself
With a threat like cryptolocker, the only effective option is to prevent it from infiltrating your computer in the first place. Once the files are encrypted, removing the malicious software will do nothing to restore access. If you want to protect against ransomware attacks, there are some steps that can be taken.
To start, you want to make sure to keep your anti-virus and anti-malware protection up to date. Security vendors are always working on new ways to protect against these attacks, so you want to make sure that you have the latest protection. In addition to that, it is also important to make sure that your operating system is up to date.
You also want to develop security protocols for using computers that are on your network, and make sure that every user understands the best practices. Tell your employees that they are not to tamper with the security settings on the computer, inform them of the different threats that can come through emails, and teach ways to avoid them.
One of the most important ways to protect against cryptolocker is to back up all of your data offsite. If you have a cloud backup for all of your data, you can mitigate the damage that would be caused by an attack, and you could avoid having to pay the ransom.
Cryptolocker is a sophisticated piece of software that can easily cost a business thousands of dollars. By following a few simple best practices, you can reduce the chances that your organization will be subject to one of these attacks. Want to protect your business? We offer a range of IT security solutions that can protect your system against ransomware attacks and more. Contact our team today to learn more about the IT solutions that we provide!