The average computer users are not convinced their humble PCs or tablets are vulnerable to cyber crime. They leave those problems to the big data businesses and government agencies.
Trouble is every device with internet access, including yours, has a problem, and the CryptoWall virus is the newest scare.
So, you might take it slow and start with the basics and a little help from Webopedia.com.
Trojan Horses enter the city gates with danger aboard. Those horses look so good and non-threatening. But, in the dead of night, the enemies on board raid the city.
Some townspeople, good folks that they are, open their doors to the intruders who do mischief at best or open a backdoor for more vicious warriors to enter and steal everything private and personal.
A Virus is an infection that spreads beyond one carrier. A computer virus does not spread by air or fluid. It attaches itself to programs or files that move from one computer to another infecting devices as it spreads.
Like a case of the flu, it can be mild or severe, annoying or devastating. Most computers recognize most viruses and quarantine them.
Too many viruses are passed around as attachments to seemingly normal emails and attachments. It takes human effort to open the sick file. But, once it has spread, you can’t call it back.
Worms spread, too, but they do so without your help. Worms know there are transport features on your computer system. Files have a sort of built-in gps.
Worms ride those routes, but that’s not the real problem. The big problem is that worms can duplicate themselves. So, for example, these clones will send thousands of copies to other computers on your contact lists.
Just like real worms, they burrow into your system leaving holes for others to follow.
Rnsomware is a criminal that kidnaps your computer’s information. It encrypts information preventing access to Windows, making files unusable, and stopping apps from running.
It will then tell you to pay money or some ransom before it releases your files.
CryptoWall is a malicious ransomware. Texas A&M warns, “the malware encrypts all data retained on the workstation before the process can be halted.”
CryptoWall slows files while they are being encrypted, and error messages like “failure to initialize” appear when running apps that usually work well.
Files appear labeled: DECRYPT_INSTRUCTIONS.TXT, DECRYPT_INSTRUCTIONS.PDF and DECRYPT_INSTRUCTIONS.HTM.
While you can remove the virus, you cannot decrypt the infected data without paying the ransom demanded in Bitcoins.
What’s an average computer user to do?
According to Yali Selia, Senior Security Researcher, writing about the cryptowall virus for SentinelOne, “Ransomware presents a unique threat. It must be detected and stopped before data is maliciously encrypted, or the data may be lost and become forever unrecoverable.”
It is always smart to refuse to open links, emails, or attachments from senders you do not know or have confidence in – no matter how intriguing the subject matter may appear.
You’ll want to regularly update items like Flash, Java, and Silverlight, and fully backup computer data to the cloud. That way, you can disinfect the affected computer and replace the files from the backup.
If your computer is unprotected, Install an antivirus and antimalware program and keep it updated.
You can also enable ad-blocking and anti-spam barriers as well as enable software restriction policies.
CyrptoWall is already in its fourth version, and each time it “upgrades,” your computer is at additional risk. So, at the least, you need to learn more about the threats out there and do what you can to keep them away.