Crypto Virus: Meaning, Prevention & Removal Methods

Crypto virus attacks are on the rise, with roughly 4,000 attacks occurring daily. The US government estimates that over $1 billion in ransom is paid as a result of these attacks each year. However, the cost of a crypto virus attack far exceeds the ransom paid to decrypt files. Crypto viruses frequently result in significant downtime, data loss and reputation damage for organizations.

What is a Crypto Virus?

A crypto virus also known as the CryptoLocker virus is a type of ransomware virus that encrypts files on a compromised device and demands ransom in exchange for a decryption code. Crypto virus infections typically occur when a user clicks on a malicious link or downloads a malicious attachment delivered via email. Once a crypto virus is installed on a victim’s computer, it encrypts a large number of files on the user’s computer, server or hard drive.

Locky and Cryptowall are two notorious crypto viruses that have both done serious damage. Locky, which was released in 2016, is delivered in a malicious email containing a fraudulent Microsoft Word document. Locky attacked more than 400,000 users within the first week of its detection and infects as many as 30 devices per minute. Cryptowall, which first appeared in the wild around 2014, is a Trojan horse that hides inside the victim’s OS and adds itself to the Startup folder. The ransomware deletes volume shadow copies of victims’ files - making it extremely difficult to restore encrypted data.

Note: Never pay the ransom. It won't remove the virus, is highly unlikely to decrypt your files, and you'll be giving into blackmail and coercive threats. 

How Does the Crypto Virus Work?

The CryptoLocker doesn't lock you out of your computer like some ransomware viruses, but it does stop you from accessing critical files. It warns that you have to obtain a private key in exchange for a fee or else your files will be destroyed permanently. Unfortunately, whether you pay or not, the files are encrypted and it's near impossible to decrypt them. It's vital that you detect a dangerous threat such as the Crypto or CryptoLocker virus before it infects your computer, so that your files are safe.

How to Avoid Getting the Crypto Virus?

While ransomware can be very scary – the encrypted files can essentially be considered damaged beyond repair. But there are processes you can follow to prepare your system. Here are a six tips that will help you keep ransomware from causing you damage:

  • Update your antivirus software and malware protection
  • Backup your data
  • Re-enable the ability to see the full file-extension, it can be easier to spot suspicious files
  • Don't open suspicious attachments or files
  • Don't click on links you don't recognize
  • Don't pirate software

How To Defend Against Crypto Viruses 

Protecting against crypto viruses and ransomware requires a defense-in-depth approach to security. Email-borne threats like crypto viruses and malware have become much more sophisticated and difficult to detect, often leveraging fileless techniques that avoid the use of executable files in order to evade detection. Antivirus software alone is ineffective in combating advanced, modern exploits, and the majority of traditional security solutions have fallen behind - unable to keep pace with today’s rapidly-evolving threats. However few quick tips to remove or overcome crypto viruses are:

- To remove the virus itself, one way is to use antivirus software, but no guarantee it's completely removed.

- It's also worth installing a malware removal tool which helps detect ransomware like Crypto and delete it before it causes any problems.

- You can also use system restore to return to an earlier point on your computer before you picked up the Crypto virus, but this may not decrypt the files.

- You can also choose to reformat computer's hard drive to delete the Crypto virus. In this process all the files and applications on your system will be erased so be sure to know what you are doing.

Above methods might help an individual with one computer but for organisations its very different as once the crypto virus is launched, it encrypts a large number of files on a user's computer or on servers, hard drives and other storage devices throughout the organization. To secure email against crypto viruses and other dangerous attacks, it is critical that organizations implement a multi-layered cloud email security solution like Guardian Digital EnGarde Cloud Email Security. EnGarde scans all URLs and attachments in real-time to detect ransomware, viruses and other malicious code that could lead to compromise. Advanced detection engines analyze hundreds of thousands of attributes of each email that passes through EnGarde’s gateway, ensuring that only safe, legitimate mail reaches the inbox.

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