If you saw our last blog post about ransomware—Ransomware…What is It?—then you know that ransomware is a type of malware that attacks your computer by locking you out with a displayed message that demands you take a certain action, always involving sending a payment, before your computer can be “unlocked.”
You may recently have heard of a new variant in ransomware—the Encrypto virus. This is a particularly nasty piece of malware that, in addition to locking your computer, sets a time limit on “unlocking” it, and threatens to destroy all your information if you don’t pay. Once your computer has been infected the message displayed on the screen warns that your files have all been encrypted and if you don’t send a payment within a certain time frame, all your information will be lost forever—no one will ever be able to unlock your files without the hacker’s “key” to decryption.
How does the Encrypto virus spread? Typically, through email—the hackers hide the Encrypto virus in an attachment that looks like a PDF but is actually an executable, or .exe file. If you or someone on your staff opens the phony PDF, the virus encrypts the files on your computer and tells you that you can only get the key to unlock them if you pay.
It’s a scary possibility—an attorney in Oklahoma made the news recently when he went public about his law firm being attacked by the Encrypto virus, and his plans to pay the ransom.
So, what can you do to protect yourself and your small business network against the Encrypto virus and other types of malware that attack by encrypting your files?
First, we know you’ve heard this often but it’s well worth repeating—always be vigilantly careful about opening attachments to email! The fake PDFs containing the Encrypto virus will seem to come from a trusted source, like Xerox delivering a scanned image, or FedEx sending package tracking information. If you or your staff EVER receive emails with attachments, make sure you are actually expecting that email and its attached information from that particular source before opening the attachments. It’s easy to forget during a hectic work day, especially when you have an intimidating backlog of email to get through, but it’s vital to preventing these kinds of computer viruses from infecting your system.
If you’re using Windows, disabling hidden file extensions can help detect these attacks before your computer is infected.
If your computer does get infected by this type of encryption virus, manually disconnect it from your wireless or wired connection immediately in order to prevent it from spreading to other computers on your network.
Another reminder that almost can’t be repeated enough—make sure you have a separate backup system for all your most important files. If you lack such a system or just want some advice about your best options, Skynet Innovations specializes in network services. We also offer consultation and planning for the best network security. Call or email us with any questions—“we’re not afraid to go the extra mile for our clients.”