New ransomware detected in the wild: Locky virus
Computer security experts claim that 2015 was definitely a year of ransomware, but it seems the growth of these viruses continues into 2016. One of the latest examples of ransomware is Locky virus. In a short time, it has successfully affected thousands of computer users. This virus mostly spreads via malicious emails, and it is worth mentioning that cyber criminals related to Locky are really ambitious – reportedly, the first batch of emails including malicious Locky file was sent to over 400 thousand computer users. We can only wonder how many emails these criminals sent later on. However, Locky is a fearsome virus, which takes user’s personal files hostage, and unfortunately, there is no way to recover them.
How does Locky virus work?
Locky virus spreads as a Word document attached to malicious e-mail letters. This Word file is presented as an invoice when in reality it contains malicious code. This code can be activated with Word Macros. In case Macros are disabled, this document showcases a scrambled text and asks to enable Macros. When the user activates Macros, the malicious code in this fake invoice file downloads and runs Locky executive file, which starts searching for important files on the computer and encrypts them using RSA-2048 and AES-128 encryption algorithms. There is no way to stop Locky once it starts its processes, and unfortunately, there is no way to decrypt files after it locks them. When Locky ransomware finishes the encryption process, it leaves ransom notes informing the victim what happened and says that victim needs to pay up 0.5 – 1.0 Bitcoin (which is approximately 210-418 US dollars) to get a unique key, which can be used to decrypt the encrypted data.
Prevention is better than the cure
As we have already mentioned, it is almost impossible to recover files encrypted by Locky virus, so we strongly advise you to take precautions and secure your PC before such virus attempts to attack it. These tips will help you to prevent ransomware infection:
- Secure your computer by installing a trustworthy anti-malware program.
- Stay away from emails that come from unknown senders, and do not open suspicious attachments! In addition, avoid exploring letters filtered as Spam or Junk.
- Create copies of important data and store them in a safe place, ideally, an external drive.
- Ensure your programs are up-to-date.
- Avoid browsing through suspicious web pages and do not download any content from them if you have even a slightest suspicious that the website is untrustworthy.
If you want to learn more about Locky virus, or if you believe that it has already affected your computer, you might find the information provided in this article useful – Locky virus. How to Remove? (Uninstall Guide)
Prevent websites, ISP, and other parties from tracking you
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A VPN is also crucial when it comes to user privacy. Online trackers such as cookies can not only be used by social media platforms and other websites but also your Internet Service Provider and the government. Even if you apply the most secure settings via your web browser, you can still be tracked via apps that you are connected to the internet. Besides, privacy-focused browsers like Tor is are not an optimal choice due to diminished connection speed.
Therefore, to stay completely anonymous and prevent the ISP and the government from spying on you, you should employ Private Internet Access VPN. It will allow you to connect to the internet while being completely anonymous, prevent trackers, ads, as well as malicious content. Most importantly, you will prevent the illegal surveillance activities that NSA and other governmental institutions are performing behind your back.
Recover your lost files quickly
Unforeseen circumstances can happen at any time while using the computer: it can turn off due to a power cut, a Blue Screen of Death (BSoD) can occur, or random Windows updates can decide to reboot the machine when you went away for a few minutes. As a result, your schoolwork, important documents, and other data might be lost.
Additionally, you might also be attacked by malware that can corrupt your Windows or encrypt files with a robust encryption algorithm, and ask for a ransom in Bitcoin for the decryption tool. Cybercriminals might not deliver what they promised, however, so it is better to attempt alternative file recovery methods that could help you to retrieve at least some portion of the lost data.
Data recovery software is one of the options that could help you recover your files. Once you delete a file, it does not vanish into thin air – it remains on your system as long as no new data is written on top of it. Data Recovery Pro is recovery software that searchers for working copies of deleted files within your hard drive. By using the tool, you can prevent loss of valuable documents, school work, personal pictures, and other crucial files.