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Be on guard against latest computer virus


Have you heard of Crypto Locker? Does it sound like a bad '80s horror movie starring Anthony Michael Hall and Richard Grieco? Fortunately, that film was not made, but Crypto Locker in reality is a computer virus and is one of the most ruthless to come around.

The virus appeared in 2013 and is in a family of threats called ransom-ware, defined as a type of malicious software designed to block access to a computer system until a sum of money is paid. In the case of the Crypto Virus, once infected you are asked for $300 to be paid to a secure site and if you do not before the deadline expires (an actual clock counts down on your computer) all your files are encrypted and you cannot access them. To make things even worse, the virus spreads rapidly so you could expose your entire network to the threat.

I have heard accounts of people paying the fee and they were actually sent the codes to unencrypt their PC. Online source Zdnet shows that more than $27 million has been transferred to the creators of this threat worldwide. This was tracked by looking at Bitcoin addresses (if you are not familiar with Bitcoins, see my next column). You might be wondering where this virus comes from. It usually arrives in an attachment sent via email. A best practice for all email correspondence is to only open emails from people you know, and even then it pays to look closely. If the subject reads "See this picture from last night" and you were not with that person the night before, delete immediately. Also, the best business level anti-virus should be deployed and it will pick up most threats. \

That said, the best anti-virus in the world cannot stop someone from clicking a link, or opening an email that might get through your digital security. I am sure you all have that one person in your office who just “happens” to get viruses all the time but “never” visits questionable sites, opens all emails, etc. We will call that person Dr. Click-a-Lot for today’s purposes. One of the best ways to avoid a catastrophe in a virus situation is to have a backup of your data and to keep a spare computer available for your organization. This way, downtime is minimized and productivity stays up. Also, if you are infected, unplug immediately and call your IT professional. The world of technology is full of threats, new ones each day, and most of them certainly are scarier than a Richard Grieco film.

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