Computer FAQ
November 6, 2013

This week: CryptoLocker Virus
I don’t generally write a column about just one virus, but this one is one of the most damaging to Windows PCs in a long time. CryptoLocker is spread via email attachments, as the hackers prefer to email businesses because they will pay the ransom of $300 to get their machines and data back. But that does not mean you as individual users are not at risk, and spending $300 to a hacker may be cheaper than recovering your PC and still lose your documents and pictures. The hackers send an email with an attachment, usually one with “PDF” in the name, followed by an “EXE,” which means this is actually an executable file. The first thing it does is to encrypt your entire hard drive and all files, then there is a pop-up screen that indicates your files have been encrypted and you have 72 to 96 hours to pay the ransom, with a countdown timer. If you do not pay the ransom, the unlock key that is stored on the hacker’s server is destroyed, so there is no way ever to recover your hard drive’s data. Yes, you can restore your hard drive with either an image backup that you have done, hopefully recently, or to a factory restore, but only if you have the recovery disks created that all new machines need after they are first set up. There are no factory recovery partitions on new PCs; it is all up to the user to make sure one has the restore disks.
To protect yourself from this and any other destructive virus, you must have a system restore backup and a current backup of your personal data. The easiest method is to have a USB external hard drive, using either Windows System Image Backup and System Backup and Restore (Start button/all programs/maintenance). Create the system image and the system start up CD or USB disk to be able to boot and restore your machine. Afterward, backup your personal data as often as you feel it needs to be saved. Then unplug the external hard drive from your PC so it is not connected to your PC if you are unlucky enough to be attacked by this very nasty virus, as it will encrypt any drive attached to your PC. Most external backup hard drive software will also do all the above for you. In summary, do not click on any email link coming from an unknown origin, and even then be careful. And create a system image and backup your data often.

‘til next week
Robert - 360-497-3130 Cell
ComputerFAQ #671

 

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Index to Past ComputerFAQ Columns:

November 6, 2013 Cryto Locker Virus
October 30, 2013 Power Supplies and Power Strips
October 23, 2013 Hacked! My E-mail was HACKED!
October 16, 2013 View Home Page As You Like It Part 2
October 9, 2013 View Home Page As You Like It
October 2, 2013 PUPs Cause Slow Browsing
September 25, 2013 Smart Phones
September 18, 2013 Bits, Bytes, Kilo, Mega and Giga
September 11, 2013 ScamAGAIN - RansomWare and Remote Control
September 4, 2013 ScamAGAIN - Get "Dummy" Credit Card
August 28, 2013 Backing Up Your PC-Part 2
August 21, 2013 Backing Up Your PC-Part 1
August 14, 2013 Troubleshooting Internet Connections
August 7, 2013 Cooling Fans and Temperature
July 31, 2013 Windows 8.1 Part 2
July 24, 2013 Windows 8.1 Part 1
July 17, 2013 Windows XP Expires April, 2014
July 10, 2013 PC Won't Boot AND Toolbars
July 3, 2013 Helpful Hints - 2nd Users on Your PC
June 26, 2013 PC SCAM - Part 2
June 19, 2013 PC Money SCAM-READ THIS
June 12, 2013 CAUTION New Viruses AND Trojans
June 5, 2013 WIFI vs Cable
May 29, 2013 On-Line Help-BEWARE
May 22, 2013 Faxing With Multi-Function Printers
May 15, 2013 Scanners and Software
May 8, 2013 Battery Replacement May Be Necessary
May 1, 2013 Zombies Search Your Personal Info
April 24, 2013 Java and Adobe Updates NOT to be Ignored
April 17, 2013 Passwords And Email
April 10, 2013 Spring Cleaning-The Inside
April 3, 2013 Spring Cleaning for Your PC
March 27, 2013 Microsoft WORKS Great Substitute for Office
March 20, 2013 Windows 8 UPDATE
March 13, 2013 Helpful Equipment
March 6, 2013 Build Your Own PC
February 27, 2013 Build Your Own PC
February 20, 2013 More Help with Viruses
February 13, 2013 VIRUSes How Did I Get It?????
February 6, 2013 VIRUSes EXPECT A BAD YEAR!
January 23, 2013 Protect Your Computer from JAVA Vulnerability
January 16, 2013 Driver Update Managers
January 9, 2013 Unwanted Programs & Tools Bars
January 2, 2013
Randome Loss Of Interne
December 19, 2012 Recovery Disks
December 12, 2012 Warranty Service Part 2

December 5, 2012 Warranty Service
November 28, 2012 Printer Paper Jams - Again
November 21, 2012 Time For New PC?
November 14, 2012 Printer Paper Jams
November 7, 2012 LapTop Fan Coolers
October 31, 2012 Name Brand Replacement Parts
October 24, 2012 Facebook - What's Wrong
October 17, 2012 Waste Of Money
October 10, 2012 Phantom Printers
October 3, 2012 E-Mail Programs
September 26, 2012 Scammed-Clean/Up Your Comp-POP UP
September 19, 2012 What's Wrong With Facebook?
September 12, 2012 Backing Up Your Data
September 5, 2012 Microsoft UPDATE Your Updates-II
August 29, 2012 Microsoft UPDATE Your Updates-I
August 22, 2012 Your Digital Life and Death
August 15, 2012 System Reload
August 8, 2012 Windows 8 On the Road
August 1, 2012 DSL Modems
July 25, 2012 PC Cameras & Your Privacy
July 18, 2012 Recycle Bin and File extensions Part 2
July 11, 2012 Recycle Bin and File extensions
July 4, 2012 DNS changer due date
June 27, 2012 Rebooting
June 20, 2012 Windows 8 REDUX-Again
June 13, 2012 Windows 8 REDUX
June 6, 2012 Hard Reset
May 30, 2012 Important: Updates & Systsem Time
May 23, 2012 SSD Drives
May 16, 2012 User Accounts
May 9, 2012 July 9 "Internet Doomsday" Botnet
May 2, 2012 Recycle Bin
April 25, 2012 USB Disconnecting
April 18, 2012 Passwords - Part 3
April 11, 2012 Passwords - Part 2
April 4, 2012 Passwords - Part 1
March 28, 2012 Back Up Your BackUp
March 21, 2012 WINDOWS 8 Part 2
March 14, 2012 WINDOWS 8 Part 1
March 7, 2012 Update Your PC to Windows 7
February 29, 2012 Update Your PC to Windows 7
February 22, 2012 Update Your PC to Windows 7
February 15, 2012 On Removing Unwanted Programs
February 8, 2012 Re-Install Windows OP System
February 1, 2012 Re-Install Windows OP System
January 25, 2012 Install WI-FI in Your Home? Part 3-Hardware
January 18, 2012 Install WI-FI in Your Home? Part 2-Hardware
January 11, 2012 Install WI-FI in Your Home?
January 4, 2012 Updates AGAIN!