6 Things You Should Do Now to Defend Yourself from CryptoWall

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Sun, 09/07/2014 - 00:02 -- jenn

The CryptoWall Virus has been making its way through hundreds of thousands of computers and earning cybercrooks literally millions of dollars.  This new breed of virus, called ransomware, takes all of your computer files hostage by encrypting them with military level encryption.  Unencrypting the files manually would be impossible.  To get the key to unencrypt and recover your files, you are asked to pay a "ransom" in BitCoin, an untraceable form of digital currency.  For more details on the virus itself, see New Deadly Computer Virus: CryptoWall.

So how do you protect yourself from this virus?  Here are some ways that will significantly reduce your chances of being infected.

  1. Add an ad-blocker plugin to your browser (Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer).  We like Ad Block Plus and it's free!  Yahoo! Ads were infected at one point, spreading this virus even further as people purposely or accidently clicked ads.
  2. Make sure you have virus protection on your PC!  We use Microsoft Security Essentials, which is free and has been very effective for us.
  3. Install MalWare protection.  We like Malware Bytes.  There is a free version, but it requires you to manually update the database and does not offer real-time protection.  You also need to watch for the "trial" checkbox when installing it and deselect that.  In my opinion, it's worth the $25 a year to buy the Premium version, which you can install on 3 computers, as it does offer real-time protection.
  4. Make sure that you are not only creating a back up of your system on a regular basis, but also storing viagra online reliable it someplace that isn't attached to your computer.  For example, you could burn the files to DVD, save them to an external drive that isn't "connected" to your computer at all times or save it to a cloud service of some sort.  The main idea is to have a back up that you could restore to, that isn't attached to your computer because the CryptoWall virus will encrypt anything on your computer or computer network.
  5. If you use Dropbox and you want to be extra secure, delete the desktop application that allows you to drag and drop with a Dropbox folder on your system and use the web interface instead.  CryptoWall will encrypt all files on Dropbox if you are using the desktop application.
  6. If you are running a network, consider using FTP to access network drives rather than creating drive shortcuts.


Other precautions that you probably already take, but are worth mentioning are:

  1. Do not open email attachments from people you don't know.  If you are suspicious, send an email to the sender and ask what the attachment is.  
  2. Do not open attachments that have multiple file extensions, such as ,jpg.exe or .pdf.exe.
  3. Thoroughly research any free software downloads
  4. Avoid torrent sites or other pirated software/music

Cybercrooks are not likely to move away from this type of malware, as it's been very lucrative for them so it becomes necessary for everyone to take steps to protect themselves.