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What Is Cryptowall: Understanding the Threat and What to Do About It

Cryptowall is a Trojan type computer virus. As such its destructive package is hidden behind legitimate-looking software you might want or need to install in your computer (this is only one of its many “cover”). Without any protection from these malicious programs, your computer will be very susceptible to infection.

A computer virus is a fact of life these days. Contracting one in your system is not a matter of “if” but “when”. Thus vigilance is the key in making sure you are always free from these electronic nuances.

A cryptowall is a virus belonging to a league all on its own. It belongs to a specific category of Trojan horse virus called ransomware which does not only infect random files but hides it altogether with a strong encryption. This makes it almost impossible for computer owners to access their files after an infection.

The Hookup

Now that the files are hidden away by the cryptowall and the owner of the files is scrambling to make sure he gets it all back, the intention of this virus is revealed – extorting money from data owners. For owners to have any hope of getting their data back intact they must contact the author of the malware and pay a pre determined ransom amount (often to be paid in bitcoins).

The payment affords the data owner a decryption key for the hidden files. This decryption key will then be used to restore all of the encrypted data in his computer.

What can you do?

The most obvious solution would be just to pay the ransom amount for the data especially if you know the value of your information. However if you are unwilling to pay the next option for you would be to access your file backup systems (if you have initiated one before the cryptowall attack).

But before restoring your data on your computer from your backup storage, be sure to remove the malware that hosted the cryptowall in your computer. You have to understand that the malware is relatively easy to remove from your system. It is reclaiming your file that proves to be very difficult, close to impossible in many cases.

Another simpler solution is just to restore your files from previous versions. Microsoft operating systems have a built in ability to back up previous versions of your files and sometimes the part of the cryptowall code that is supposed to disable this versioning function in Windows is not executed. This can be a very lucky break and does not happen in most cases. But if it does then you are in luck.

How To Protect Your Computer From Cryptowall

You would agree 100% that in the case of a ransomware like cryptowall, prevention is way better than cure. Protecting your computer from ransomware infection is not that hard.

First, you need to install an antivirus in your system and update it as often as you can. Second, as soon as you are comfortable with your software and system security, you can start building up a sound backup system which may include a physical back up drive or a system tapping cloud based back up. Third, you need to be more careful with your software downloads and other online activities.

Never be a click-happy computer user, always be mindful of the risks you are taking in every suspicious file you open in your email and every unsolicited download request you receive online.

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