CryptoLocker is a nasty Trojan Horse malware which surfaced in October. It is a form of ransomware targeting computers running Microsoft Windows, locking up personal data through state-of-the-art encryption, and demanding a payment to unlock the data.
CryptoLocker disguises itself as a legitimate attachment, usually a zip file. When opened, the malware encrypts certain types of files stored on local and mounted network drives with the private key stored only on the malware’s control servers. The malware then displays a message offering to decrypt the data if a payment (of about $300 USD) in Bitcoins or a pre-paid voucher is made by a stated deadline. The private key will be deleted and unavailable for recovery if the deadline passes.
What is really unusual about this nefarious operation is that it has a customer service site! If the deadline is not met, you can still get a password to decrypt your data via an online service provided by the malware’s operators for a significantly higher price…usually 10 Bitcoins or nearly $4,000 USD.
Until now, ransomware attacks were limited by the lack of a global payment method. By using Bitcoin – the new digital currency – CryptoLocker has created a new generation of malware.
How do you protect yourself?