As if right on cue for Cyber Security Month, a new malware named “CryptoLocker” has been hitting people’s hard drives with force.
This malware installs itself into your “Documents and Settings” folder under a randomly generated name. It then adds itself to the list of programs that run every time you log on and eventually creates and uploads an ID for you online. After your ID is created, a public-private key pair is generated, with the public portion being sent back to your computer.
Soon after setting you up, CryptoLocker encrypts all of your files. From important work documents, to spreadsheets, to family photos, CryptoLocker scrambles and locks it all. A pop-up then greets you with a “pay us or lose all your data” message. Typically, CryptoLocker gives users about 100 hours to pay a fee of $300 for the private key to recover their data. If this fee isn’t paid, the key is destroyed and the files are lost.