About a year ago I wrote a warning Beware of Cryptolocker Malware. If you don’t remember it well, I suggest you read it again. The cost for ignoring the warning is getting more and more expensive.
In short, Crytolocker (and variants) are malware that gets installed on your computer. As soon as it is installed, the files on your hard drive are encrypted and the only way to unencrypt them is to pay a ransom. Sure, you can uninstall the malware but that won’t unencrypt your files.
When I wrote that first warning, I didn’t know anyone who had been personally attacked by Cryptolocker. That all changed in the past few days and I want to share a little bit about what they had to do to get their computer working again.
According to their information, the name of the malware was Cryptowall 2.0. I originally wrote the ransom was around $300. It now costs 1.33 bitcoin which currently translates to around $750. Since the victim didn’t have a Bitcoin account, they had to hire a service to help and the service had a 4 hour minimum. So add another $450 for that service. There was also tax involved.
If you think this won’t affect you, don’t be too confident. The person who shared their story with me is not someone I would guess would get infected. It could happen to anyone, myself included, and I try to be as cautious as possible so I don’t get victimized. Once again, read Beware of Crytolocker Malware for details on how to stay as safe as possible. At the very least, you need to have good security software installed. I’ve long advocated ZoneAlarm Security Suite. It has a reasonable cost and it is a heck of a lot less than the $1200+ the victim I’ve described had to pay to get their data back.