We were recently alerted to an increase in CryptoLocker malware attacks impacting individuals and businesses. CryptoLocker is a type of computer malware that freezes access to every file on your computer, including photos, documents and programs, with a secret pass key known only to the hacker. It is a newer, more sophisticated generation of malicious “ransomware” – harmful software that restricts access to an infected computer and requests that the user pay ransom in order to regain control.
Computers are generally infected with the CryptoLocker Malware when an unsuspecting user accesses a “tainted” email, which appears to be coming from a legitimate source, such as the FBI, IRS, USPS, UPS, FedEx, etc. The fraudulent emails are used to trick the recipient into downloading malware onto their computer. Other variations of this scam lure the victim to disreputable sites on the internet by promising free goods, such as iPads or other electronic devices. when the user clicks on the fraudulent link or email attachment, the malware is deployed. Once a computer is infected, the malware alerts the user that they must pay a ransom in order to unlock their computer.
Prevention is the best practice.
If you receive a suspicious or unsolicited email in your inbox do not click any links or images or open an attachment. Immediately delete the item from your inbox and deleted items.
Always remember to “Stop, Think, Click”, before visiting any link on the internet. If an offer seems too good to be true, it generally is. An action as simple as clicking on a link can put your computer and confidential information at risk.
If you believe your computer may be infected with malware or you begin to receive suspicious pop-up messages, do not enter any confidential personal or financial information until you have confirmed that it is safe to do so. Notify MVSB and your other financial institutions immediately, so that we can take appropriate steps to protect your account(s).
Onguardonline.com recommends taking the following preventative measures to keep your computer safe from malware:
- Keep your security software updated. At a minimum, your computer should have anti-virus and anti-spyware software, and a firewall. Set your security software, internet browser, and operating system (like Windows or Mac OS) to update automatically.
- Instead of clicking on a link in an email, type the URL of the site you want directly into your browser. Criminals send emails that appear to be from companies you know and trust. The links may look legitimate, but clicking on them could download malware or send you to a spoof site designed to steal your personal information.
- Don’t open attachments in emails unless you know who sent it and what it is. Opening attachments — even in emails that seem to be from friends or family — can install malware on your computer.
- Download and install software only from websites you know and trust. Downloading free games, file-sharing programs, and customized toolbars may sound appealing, but free software can come with malware.
- Minimize “drive-by” downloads. Make sure your browser security setting is high enough to detect unauthorized downloads. For Internet Explorer, for example, use the “medium” setting at a minimum.
- Use a pop-up blocker and don’t click on any links within pop-ups. If you do, you may install malware on your computer. Close pop-up windows by clicking on the “X” in the title bar.
- Resist buying software in response to unexpected pop-up messages or emails, especially ads that claim to have scanned your computer and detected malware. That’s a tactic scammers use to spread malware.
- Talk about safe computing. Tell your kids that some online actions can put the computer at risk: clicking on pop-ups, downloading “free” games or programs, opening chain emails, or posting personal information.
- Back up your data regularly. Whether it’s text files or photos that are important to you, back up any data that you’d want to keep in case your computer crashes.