CryptoLocker and High-Tech Kidnapping: Could You Be the Next Victim?

The best way to protect a network from ransomware and other attacks is to partner with an experienced IT solutions organization. Click here to learn more.

September 22, 2014 by Alex Collins, IT Services Consultant


There are few things more terrifying for anyone than having files held for ransom. That’s exactly what CryptoLocker does. This malware enters your computer system and uses strong AES-256-bit cryptography to lock up your files. It is usually spread by infected email attachments or a trojan botnet. It is just about impossible to break the encryption without a key. The terms of the ransom are simple – pay $300 and get access to your files. Don’t and they are locked forever. According to the BBC, over 500,000 users have been affected by the malware all over the globe. As a result victims have been defrauded out of approximately $27 million according to FBI estimates in June of 2014.

There are, however, emerging technologies to combat this high-tech form of kidnapping. Researchers from FireEye and Fox-IT have been able to recover the private encryption keys used by the malware’s authors. They have also been able to reverse-engineer the actual code of the malware, meaning your files can be unlocked without paying a ransom.

These two firms could easily sell their solution at less than the $300 ransom while still turning a profit; however, they have decided to offer it for free. A true class act. Additionally, law enforcement around the world worked together to gain control of the GameOver Zeus botnet. Referred to as "Operation Tovar," it took down a malicious crime network that infected an estimated 500,000 to one million PCs. It was also the primary distribution platform for CryptoLocker.

The best offense against ransomware like CryptoLocker, however, is a solid defense. When it comes to protecting your personal computer, make sure you practice “safe surfing.” Don’t visit questionable sites or download attachments that look suspicious. Keep your security software up to date and periodically run scans. When it comes to a business network, the solutions are more complex. There are additional considerations related to network security. For example, the company’s email system should filter out .exe files to reduce the possibility of malware sneaking through. All computers should be set to show hidden file extensions. These are just two small items that should be part of a larger plan. The best way to protect a network from ransomware, worms, and other attacks is to partner with an experienced IT solutions organization. These companies are experts in the field of network protection and can work with a business of any size to develop a plan that will keep everything up and running properly. They will have the resources to conduct a complete audit and then share that information with the business as the first step toward comprehensive network protection.

Today hackers are far too sophisticated to leave network security to chance. Organizations like FireEye and Fox-IT as well as global law enforcement have made huge strides in the fight against hacking. However, businesses today should still partner with an experienced IT solutions organization in order to make sure the network is protected against all threats.

The All Covered Difference

All Covered is here to work with you to set up comprehensive security plan. Our goal is to protect your company’s data by implementing a solid IT infrastructure. Contact us today at (866)446-1133 for more information or to schedule a consultation.