More specifically, the Crypto Locker virus is typically spread through emails that pretend to be customer support related issues from Fedex, UPS, DHS, etc. These emails contain a zip attachment that when opened will infect the computer. These zip files contain executables that are disguised as PDF files as they have a PDF icon and are typically named something like FORM_101513.exe or FORM_101513.pdf.exe. Since Microsoft does not show extensions by default, they look like normal PDF files and people open them.
The Crypto Locker virus, also written as CryptoLocker virus, is a ransomware computer program which holds your computer hostage until you pay a ransom. Holding your computer hostage, in this case, means that you will not be able to use any information on your computer unless you pay a ransom.
The Crypto Locker virus was released around the beginning of September of 2013 and shows up on your computer with a display which shows a Crypto Locker payment program that asks you to send a ransom, usually either $100 or $300 in order to decrypt the files.
The Crypto Locker virus screen might be asking for even more money, but it will display a timer stating that you have 96 hours, or 4 days, to pay the ransom, or it will delete your encryption key and you will not have any way to decrypt your files. This ransom must be paid using MoneyPak vouchers or Bitcoins.
Once you send the payment and it is verified, the program promises that it will decrypt the files that it encrypted, at least that is what the Crypto Locker virus screen promises. However, even when paying the ransom demanded by the Crypto Locker virus screen, one might not get all of the encrypted files back.
Before deciding to pay a ransom to get rid of the Crypto Locker virus, it is a good idea to visit CryptoLocker Ransomware Information Guide and FAQ, a website which discusses the Crypto Locker virus in detail and which continually updates its information.
While the website’s information about the Crypto Locker virus might sound too technical for some, it does provide helpful information on whether or not to pay a ransom, how to delay paying ransom, and what other options might be available. If the website is too difficult to understand, consulting a computer techie might be the best first step to deal with the Crypto Locker virus.
For computer techies, following some of the instructions on the website provides useful information on how to block the Crypto Locker virus, how to generate a list of files that have been encrypted by the Crypto Locker virus, and how to potentially restore files that were affected by the Crypto Locker virus.
Unfortunately, the Crypto Locker virus is not the first nor will it be the last virus that is attacking computer users. As such, the Crypto Locker virus is an important reminder to follow three major rules:
- Always back up any information from your computer that you do not want to lose (files, documents, pictures).
- Opening any files or links in your e-mail could be a virus, no matter how trustworthy the sender might sound. (A most recent method of spreading a virus is sending it under a friend’s name.)
- Computer problems are going to happen; it is just a matter of time. Whether it is through a Crypto Locker virus, technical failure, or other incident, nothing on a computer is forever.