Lessons from CryptoLocker
CryptoLocker is a very nasty piece of a type of software called Ransom Ware.
You apparently can get it from opening an attachment in your email related to a fake shipping receipt. There are likely additional ways to get it but this appears to be the usual method of infection according to reports I have read. Once your PC is infected, CryptoLocker quietly begins to encrypt your personal files and pictures then the program posts a big red image on your screen telling you that your files cannot be recovered until you pay $100 to $300 to the extortionist.
In case you are not familiar with encryption it is a way to ‘scramble’ your file with a ‘key’ so that only the person with they ‘key’ can see the file. In this case CryptoLocker offers to sell you the ‘key’ so you can get your files back.
There are some fairly technical things you can do to try to prevent it from happening to you. And if it does happen then you will need to clean or have your system cleaned. But your files will still be essentially locked up. You could pay the ransom which is no guarantee that you would get your files back even then.
There are two simple, fairly non-technical ways you can protect yourself from this. (You should be doing these things anyway.)
Lesson one, be VERY wary of emails you are not expecting and especially email attachments in those emails.
Lesson two, back up all important files, both documents and pictures, to either a CD/DVD or a removable USB Drive. CryptoLocker will get to networked drives, too, so backup to a removable device.
If you have your files backed up then if you happen to get infected with CryptoLocker or any other malicious software you can thumb your nose at the scum that create these things because you will not lose your files. The only impact to you should then be the inconvenience of having to clean (or have someone qualified clean) your system.
You need to take these precautionary steps TODAY before a problem occurs.