“Your computer has been locked due to possible illegal activities and demands payment before you can access your files and programs.” Let me introduce you to CryptoWall, also known as “ransomware”. This virus is known for encrypting files of infected computers in an effort to extort money for the decryption key. Ransomware offers the end user a resource to remove the threat and recover their files in exchange for payment. After the user pays, they are able to download and run a file cleanup to decrypt the encrypted files and set them back to a working state. So let me answer some questions you may be asking yourself.

How will I know if my computer is infected? There are a couple key signs that indicate CryptoWall has found its way into your computer. When you go to open certain files, such as .doc, .pdf, or .xls the data you find may be jumbled and not properly displayed, which can also be followed by an error message. Another sign is files that have been encrypted by CrytoWall will read, DECRYPT_INSTRUCTION.html, DECRYPT_INSTRUCTION.txt, and DECRYPT_INSTRUCTION.url. Clicking on these files will provide the user with step-by-step instructions regarding payment details. Here you will find the amount of time left on the ransom and how much is owed. The ransom amount must be paid in Bitcoin, which is a digital currency that’s used to purchase goods and services.

What happens if someone chooses not to pay? Although a fair argument, it is a risky chance to take, and in most cases will result in loss of data for non-payment. People that pay within the allotted time frame recover their data and are provided a private key to the decrypter application. This is why it is so important to have the necessary software and back-ups for your computer. Always have an active up-to-date anti-virus installed. Also it is very important to have a proper backup system and it is not a bad idea to have a cloud-based backup also. With these in order your data will be protected and you can be worry free from ransomware. If you have more questions regarding CryptoWall or need assistance please give us a call 260.213.4266.