Computer viruses, trojans, and malware have never been fun, or easy to deal with. The latest batch of malware makes pop-up ads look appealing. CryptoLocker and its variants, are malware programs that encrypts many of the files on your hard drive, and in later versions, on any network shares and requests payment, in bitcoins, to retrieve the key to get your files back. Payments are in the hundreds of dollars.
Cryptolocker and its clones have been spread through email containing zip files, with From: lines like, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Citibank, AT&T, and many other fake sources. There are fake voicemail messages, police and government alerts, and IRS notices. If you receive a zip file, even if it looks safe, and it’s from someone you know, take extra care in opening it.
We’re seen examples where virus scanners completely miss some of these zip files, and they come through looking very authentic. When you open the zip file, nothing appears to happen, but in the background, the malware is scrambling all of your files. The best practice is to not open any zip, or other compressed files you receive in email without confirmation from the sender that it’s a valid file.
Various sources estimate the scam has brought in hundreds of millions of dollars.