Prepare to be disturbed! If you haven’t already heard, there’s this “little” thing called ransomware, and it involves  the process of online gangs (as I like to call them), encrypting and locking up all of your files until you pay them a certain fee for a special decryption code. Whoa! Extortion! And I’m so disturbed I’m writing run-on sentences! Scary but true, through a program called CryptoLocker, online hackers have the ability to hijack all of your files, along with any backups you may have. This is why it’s so important to back up your files to something external, such as a USB, and then keep it locked away in a safety deposit box or something of that nature.

September of 2013 was right around the time when various cybersecurity companies discovered CryptoLocker. With most cases being reported in North America, the UK, and India, as I mentioned just a second ago, CryptoLocker demands a ransom to be paid for a decryption key in order to give you access to your files. Now, while federal officials will urge victims to not pay the ransom, for most, this is a hard request to honor. Really, think about it: do I pay and keep all of my files, or say “screw you” to these mafia-types and lose all of my files? Well, I don’t know about you but, when I think about my files being encrypted, I get a little emotional. Why? Because, I have things such as family photos and electronic journals on my computer, and the thought of losing them really bums me out.

To take it a step further, CryptoLocker also targets corporations, locking up their sensitive files. So, hopefully it can be imagined how hard it would be to say ‘no’ to paying the ransom when your whole business counts on having those files. Man, I wish I could karate chop those rude dudes in the face!

Moral of the story: backup, backup, backup! And then put your backup in a different location. CryptoLocker affects about 1000 computers a day, so please don’t be the one to regret not having a duplicate of all of your files.

I’d like to finish this post with a graceful round-kick to Cryptolocker’s face and, at the risk of sounding like a couple of nags, Jeff and I will say it again: back, back, back it up!


Christina Myers

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Jimmie Walker - a couple of years ago

Ransom ware is definitely real. My current job involves investigating ransom ware infections impacting local companies. Although CryptoLocker was dismantled last year by the FBI, Crypto Wall is now running wild. I’ve actually had success using forensics software to recover a lot of files in plain text located on encrypted hard drives. Ransom ware might not require paying a ransom and instead requires someone with access to top notch forensics software to recover files.


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