Cryptolocker the planet’s worst ransomware trojan has reappeared in all its ugly forms. Across the world networks and computer files have been encrypted by this trojan before a ransom demand is made to the user or administrator. Some victims who don’t have adequate backup are losing all their files, or having to pay a ransom of thousands to the criminals who propagate this electronic curse.
Cryptolocker is propagated via infected email attachments, and via a botnet; when activated, the malware encrypts certain types of files stored on local and mounted network drives using RSA public key cryptography. Cryptolocker itself is readily removed, however encrypted files will remain locked unless the key is provided. Worse some who have paid the ransom, have not had the key provided being left with encrypted files and a big bill. It is estimated that around 3% of affected users pay the ransom requested.
Almost a year ago the US Department of Justice announced that the FBI and Interpol had publicly issued an indictment against a Russian hacker and had gained the keys to the malware. However it appears a new version and clones such as CryptoWall and TorrentLocker are back in business,
Security software is designed to detect such threats, however it may not detect Cryptolocker at all, or only after encryption is underway or complete, particularly if a new version unknown to the protective software.
To how do you get Cryptolocker?
Email is the primary entry point for the Cryptolocker Trojan into networks and computers. Cryptolocker typically is propagated as an attachment to a seemingly innocuous e-mail message, which appears to have been sent by a legitimate company. These emails may contain company logos and representations that they are legitimate: examples in Australia and New Zealand include Australia Post, New Zealand Post, The Australian Federal Police, Microsoft, UPS parcel deliveries, and several of the major banks.
The emails tend to offer legitimate services or ask a reasonable request as simple as a payment receipt, deliver document, or in the case of the Australian Federal Police scam asking you to view a speeding fine or photo. Once the attachment is clicked, the ransomware is deployed in your systems and then encrypts files across local hard drives and mapped network drives with the public key, and logs each file encrypted to a registry key. The process only encrypts data files with certain extensions, including Microsoft Office, OpenDocument, and other documents, pictures, and AutoCAD files.
If you think you have Cryptolocker?
Once the execution file for the encryption is completed it is almost impossible to unlock files without the key. If you suspect that you have clicked on a cryptolocker email it is important to shut down as soon as possible. The malware invades all mapped drives of the network, so any connected backup or external drives can be infected, as well other machines on the network can also catch the virus, so keeping the machine off and isolated is a very important part of reducing damage.
Once your machine is encrypted it is really a matter of isolating the machine from all networks, keep it turned off and disconnected from the internet. It then becomes a matter of determining the damage & spread, & if backups are available. It is a great time to call an IT Expert, like Computer Troubleshooters, who can advise the appropriate course of action, be it restoring the machine with backup, or paying the ransom (and in both cases removing the Cryptolocker virus) .
How to prevent a Cryptolocker infection?
Prevention – don’t open or click on unsolicited emails
Here is a our Checklist to protect Yourself, Your Family and Your Business from Cyptolocker
In both our professional and private lives, each of us needs to assume responsibility for our online activities. These responsibilities involve a combination of equipment maintenance and software updates coupled with appropriate online behavior and a constant vigilance against criminal activities. We suggest that you start with this brief checklist:
Computer Troubleshooters Can Help Your Business with Cyber Security
Computer Troubleshooters can do an assessment of your business’ computer network. We can also provide recommendations for establishing a strategic approach to cyber security and assist you with a variety of solutions to reduce the risk of a security breach. We strongly encourage you to prepare your business for the threat of a cyber security crime, contact your local Computer Troubleshooters office today for help and advice.
The Thrill is Gone – do you remember that classic blues song? It’s a heart-breaking reminder about the loss of a once exhilarating and passionate connection. It’s a bitter realization when the old spark seems gone forever. Somehow over time, all the previous excitement has simply fizzled out. Excuse us, but we are talking about your relationship with your computer!
How is Your Relationship with Your PC?
Yes, even your formerly beloved computer can slow down over time until the thrill is most definitely gone. Honestly, does your computer seem unresponsive, sluggish and outdated? Are those exciting new models starting to turn your head? Maybe you and your cranky computer just need a little professional help to rekindle that old flame.
Tips on Learning to Love Your PC Again
It’s very likely that the relationship between you and your computer is salvageable, it just needs a little extra attention. Try these steps to put some zip back in the relationship with your computer:
Improve Your Relationship with Your Computer
Those lyrics, “If you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with,” can also apply to computers. If you can’t afford a new computer at this time, it’s very likely that your current computer can be improved with some professional maintenance. Computer Troubleshooters can help you increase the efficiency of an older PC with a little TLC and maybe some added RAM. Consider a deep cleaning to remove unnecessary programs that are doing nothing but slowing down the functioning of your PC. Contact us now and we will be happy to evaluate the status of your current computer.
Microsoft have confirmed that they will end support for their popular Server 2003 product range on the 14th of July 2015. It was first released on April 24, 2003. An updated version, Windows Server 2003 R2, was released on December 6, 2005. This product range also includes Small Business Server 2003.
These products were aimed towards the small to medium-sized businesses. Supporting file and printer sharing, secure Internet connectivity, centralised desktop application deployment, and in the case of Small Business Server the addition of Microsoft Exchange (email) and SQL (database).
When Microsoft ceases support for Server 2003 they will no longer issue security updates or software patches for any version of Server 2003. If you continue to use this product it will be like basing your business on a piece of equipment that is 12 years old, no longer serviced, and who the manufacturer no longer provides parts.
Ultimately businesses who continue to use Server 2003 will take on declining performance & escalating risk over time.
Upgrade or your business systems due to Security and Compliance Issues
If you are still using Server 2003 or Small Business Server 2003, you should take this situation seriously or your business will be negatively impacted with some significant consequences. You should consider the following information as you make your Server 2003 migration plan.
The good news is that Microsoft provides a number of alternatives that may suit your situation & budget.
So what are the alternatives for your business?
Do you have a Server Migration plan in place?
Microsoft has flagged this drop dead date for support for a serious reason, so this is not a situation you can simply ignore. It’s happening on July 14 2015, so mark your calendar. Most large organisations have been working on their migration plans for years. For small-medium sized business owners, the hour is getting late so we strongly encourage you to take action today!
Computer Troubleshooters encourages you to take this situation seriously and develop a migration plan immediately. Our experts can help you understand your migration options and work with you to develop an upgrade strategy for your business. Contact us today before you run out of time.
Our office will be closing down for the Christmas break at 4:30pm on Friday the 19th of December, although we will not be able to book any workshop jobs in afterThursday the 16th of December.
If you have any computer repairs you would like completed within the workshop please make sure they are booked in before this date. Otherwise we cannot guarantee that your computer repair would be able to be completed before we close for the holiday season.
The office will be open again from 9am on Monday the 5th of January. During this time we will have an on call technician available to our managed HOST and BEST clients for emergency support during this time.
For any urgent enquiries during the office closing time, please don’t hesitate to contact us on (03) 928 2150.
Do you think a data backup solution is simply too expensive for your business?
That viewpoint is similar to thinking that insurance for your home is too expensive. Insurance might have seemed expensive until your home is wiped out in a fire and you have lost everything. After the fire is snuffed out, how do you plan to recover? Some things can probably be replaced, but regardless of the expense, certain things are simply irreplaceable. It’s similar to protecting another key asset – your business data. Even in business, certain data, documents, photographs, accounting files and client information might be nearly impossible to replace. When it comes to business data, are you safeguarding your most important company asset with a reliable backup solution?
Any device that stores information is vulnerable to data loss. The causes of data loss are due to a wide range of human errors, technology failures and unpredictable natural disasters. Frequently floods, fires, tornados, earthquakes and lightning strikes destroy both the device and the data. Natural disasters are often followed by power failures that can also wreak havoc on technology.
The theft of equipment and attacks by hackers are widespread problems.
Laptop and mobile devices are small, valuable and easily re-sold, making them the target of choice for thieves all over the world. Each year in the United States, over 600,000 laptops are stolen with over 65% never recovered. Hackers, viruses, software bugs and cyber-attacks grab the most media attention, but it’s actually human error and hardware failures that account for nearly 75% of all data loss occurrences.
If you don’t have a backup strategy in place because you considered it too expensive, let’s redefine the term “expensive.” As a business owner, try to imagine what it would cost or if your company could even operate without your business data including QuickBooks files, client records and order information. Consider the time and expense of attempting to recreate the lost data and notifying your customers that their personal data has been compromised? If those scenarios sound terrible, then review these truly sobering data loss statistics and consider the impact this could have on your business if you don’t have a tested backup solution:
Unfortunately, we are at the mercy of this mixed bag of data loss disasters. The only plan is be proactive in safeguarding your business’ data with a tested backup solution. To take action with a backup solution, start by analyzing the needs of your business.
For example, do you need to back up your business’ entire operating system or just certain, essential data? Do you want the automatic data backup performed on a daily or weekly basis? Would a desktop backup device be an option for your business or home office? Which cloud storage or online solutions provide a secure remote backup solution that can complement your local backup strategy? Have you considered a personal cloud as a backup solution?
The backup market is huge and is continuing to grow. For business owners, that means there are lots of backup options with many solutions. Plus a reliable backup solution is not really that expensive when you consider the alternatives. We understand that sifting through options and technical details can be a daunting task. You should rely on your local Computer Troubleshooters to develop a customized backup solution or confirm that your current solution is exceeding your needs.
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is certainly true when it comes to a backup protection plan for your business”.