One of the biggest data security threats of the past year —CryptoLocker—brought the “ransomware” term to new levels of awareness. That’s because CryptoLocker is one of most infamous examples of a virus that makes data files unusable unless the victim pays for a key to unlock the infected files.
According to Symantec’s Internet Security Threat Report 2014, ransomware attacks grew by 500 percent in 2013, led by Cryptolocker, which first appeared in late summer 2013 and escalated sharply for the remainder of the year. Like many viruses, CryptoLocker is triggered by clicking on a link sent in an email, or by downloading and clicking on an email attachment. When combined with phishing techniques, some of these emails may seem like a normal email request from a business partner. The original CryptoLocker also carried strong encryption, which made it impossible for victims to unlock or clean infected files.
The good news with CryptoLocker is that by mid-2014, law enforcement shut down the botnet used to distribute the virus. Two organizations also came up with a Web tool purportedly able to unlock individual encrypted files. The bad news is that there have been imitations such as Cryptowall and Torrentlocker. So unfortunately, the threat from this type of virus is very much alive. And with the introduction of anonymous payment systems such as Bitcoin, it’s a pretty sure bet that this type of cyber extortion will continue.
So how do you protect against Crypto-style viruses? Isn’t it just as simple as instructing employees to never click on suspicious attachments or links of unknown origin? Unfortunately, that type of protection method doesn’t work all the time. Check out this technology brief for more information and tips on how you can protect your business from malware threats.