The most vicious threat yet.

Warnings and reports on the use and abuse of computers for anti-social purposes

The most vicious threat yet.

Postby meteorite » Sun Jan 26, 2014 7:11 pm

Visualize starting up your computer one day soon and being greeted with a pop-up. The screen tells you that your entire hard drive has been encrypted, using a level of encryption that, unless your name is U.S. Government, can't be decoded in your lifetime. But you can buy the decryption program and key - as long as you send $300 (U.S.) - or some similar amount depending on the greed of the criminals involved - by a specified, untraceable money transfer service within the next 72 hours.

The program that does this is called Crypto-Locker and any crook so inclined can buy it from the original programmer through an underground internet site, for about $5000 a copy, apparently. The one weakness in it is that it can't be introduced into your computer in the manner of the routine virus or other malware - it requires some social engineering to get the victim to open an email attachment. But if it hits you, pay the ransom or your computer becomes a brick, with all your programs, email, photos, videos and everything else locked away from you forever. And hope the crooks to send you the decryption key.

So how do you prevent this from happening to you? First, practice safe surfing. Have your operating system fully up to date, and your anti-virus too. Do not open emails from unknown sources and above all do not open any attachments (except from your kid, and then only after you've phoned her and verified she in fact did send it. Supplement your firewall and antivirus with other more specific anti-malware programs, like Malwarebytes (mbam) and Spyware: Search and Destroy. Consider using a sandbox program with your browser. Check download links with databases such as Web of Trust or Dr. Web, available as browser plugins. And for CryptoLocker, go to http://www.foolishIT.com and download "CryotoPrevent, or see the instructions at http://www.bleepingcomputer.com.

And should the worst happen (like some foolish, ignorant and irresponsible person getting at your machine and doing something stupid), invest $75 - 100 in an external hard disc and use either the built-in Windows program (7 or higher) or a third-party program like EaseUS To-do or Macrium Reflect to do a full disc image copy of your computer - and keep it safe offline. Then you can simply restore everything from the disc image, though you will need to keep it updated.

At which point you should be able to thumb your nose at the malefactors - you're fireproof.

And oh yes - with the sole exception of the external hard disc, every single thing I have suggested - all of the software - is either absolutely free or free for private use in a limited version that's enough for your purposes.
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