Since the discovery of the unforgiving CryptoLocker ransomware in the wild late last year, sometime in September 2012, the Internet has been gripped by one kind of a mysterious and malicious program! But what is ransomware? What is CryptoLocker really capable of? Before I explain any further, we need to understand that this deadly malware is spreading in the form of spam emails. The spam emails appear to be coming from financial institutions and contain attachments which in actual fact is the CryptoLocker ransomware.
Ransomware comprises, I quote from Wikipedia “a class of malware which restricts access to the computer system that it infects, and demands a ransom paid to the creator of the malware in order for the restriction to be removed.” Assuming the spam email recipient opens the attachment, the CryptoLocker immediately infects the computer in question, silently runs and encrypts files on the infected computer in the background without the users consent and displays a countdown timer that demands a payment in the form of Bitcoins. One of the messages it displays is an option where one can click and actually see the encrypted files and also a message that specifies that once a payment has been made a decryption key will be sent to the affected user so they can use key to recover the encrypt files.
The CryptoLocker display message resembles the image on the left. The sad part is, despite the fact that people have been warned not to open these suspicious emails or respond to the demands, some out of desperation have fallen for the trap to a point where they proceeded to pay the ransom and unfortunately never got the key to decrypt the files. This move is fueled by the fact that one of the messages on display coupled with the countdown timer clearly state that, failure to make any payment in a specific time period (determined by the countdown timer) will render the key useless hence making it impossible for one to ever recover their data.
The good news is, there are ways to protect your computer from this malware in a class of its own. Keep an eye on the blog for an update and information on how to.