Today’s computer viruses go beyond mere annoyance. How does holding your data for ransom sound? What about spying on you through your webcam, tracking your physical location, recording every keystroke you make? Welcome to the modern generation of computer threats, where infection means real-world consequences.
The latest virus making the rounds is Cryptolocker, a textbook example of all the truly nasty ways in which a modern computer virus can ruin your day. Cryptolocker encrypts your data with a one-way algorithm which mathematically cannot be reversed. If you don’t pay the ransom within the timeframe, the only key to your data is gone, kaput, goodbye.
You can’t restore your data by removing Cryptolocker, because removing the virus doesn’t decrypt the data. No tech support person in the world can decrypt it for you because it’s simply not possible without the key. Even police departments have paid the ransom, even as they recommend that consumers not do so.
Here are some resources on Cryptolocker so you can keep it from digging its sharp claws into your computer.
- Sophos: Cryptolocker Ransomware – See How It Works, Learn About Prevention, Cleanup, And Recovery
- PC Advisor: How To Protect Yourself From Cryptolocker Attack
Cryptolocker started its initial spread via email attachments, which are fairly easy to avoid. But now it’s morphing into variants that can be transmitted via USB drive, and luring victims with fake software activation codes. Although it’s a Windows virus, like all viruses it can be transmitted via Macs and mobile devices. Following in the steps of other viruses, soon Cryptolocker will evolve into spreading via social media sites.
And this is just the start.
There are other viruses out there that can activate webcams – and yes, they can bypass the green light that tells you the webcam is on. They can listen through microphones. They can track your location via your mobile device. They can listen in on your conversations on social media.
Now, more than ever, it’s vital to protect yourself from computer viruses. Here are some Tech Tips resources to help:
- How To Create Secure Passwords (Revised Edition)
- How To Avoid Keyloggers, Ransomware, And Rootkits
- How To Avoid Malware On Mobile Devices
- Tools To Protect Your Smartphone From Malware
- What To Do If You Get A Computer Virus
- How To Remove A Virus From Your Mac
- What To Do If Your Computer Is Hacked
- What To Do If Your Email Account Is Hijacked
- How To Protect Your Privacy On Social Media Sites Like Facebook And Twitter
- How To Secure Your Web Browser
- A Parent’s Guide To Protecting Your Kids Online
Have you run into Cryptolocker or other similarly destructive viruses? Share in the comments, and don’t forget to subscribe to Tech Tips by email and follow on Facebook. You can also follow @trionaguidry on Twitter.