January 7, 2015
A recent article in the NY Times, “How My Mom Got Hacked,” tells the nightmare story of how a woman had 5,726 files locked by the CryptoWall attackers.
CryptoWall is the updated version of CryptoLocker Ransomware. The modus operandi of the CryptoWall attackers is to install malware on your machine that locks your files or hard drive using encryption which only they can unlock. To get your files back, they demand a ransom. To pay the ransom, you have to purchase Bitcoins.
If you find yourself in this situation, unless you have information in your files that is deeply personal and if exposed would be embarrassing, or cause harm to others, the recommendation by the FBI is to not pay the extortionists.
It’s easier to do this if you don’t need the files back and have made backups. So back up your files often using an external drive or a cloud backup service. MIT offers CrashPlan for students, faculty and staff.
Using anti-virus software and keeping your operating system and software up to date will protect you from getting infected with CryptoWall-type malware. Learn more about virus protection at MIT.