Ransomware is something that never really goes away. Every now and again, it rears its ugly head and finds a way to make computer users’ lives a misery. The last six months or so have seen the emergence of Locky.
As malware goes, it is a rather crude and low-tech variety. However, we have seen firsthand the devastating effects that it can bring. What’s more, the ever-growing nature of social media is giving it more and more channels to feed off of.
What is Locky?
Locky is a form of ransomware that came about last year, which uses malicious macros to ‘lock’ a user out of their own data. Those who fall foul to it are unable to access their own files, and are ordered to pay a fee to ‘unlock’ it again. The fee usually starts at around £300, but demands for much higher amounts have been reported. If you do fall victim to ransomware, you will know it is Locky by the file extensions on your documents. They will all contain “.locky” at the end.
Below is a typical image of what you would see had the virus infected your system.
How Does Locky Spread?
The most common way that the virus finds its way onto a device is through an email attachment. Usually, a user will open a Microsoft Word email document and enable macros when prompted. Once they do this, Locky will unleash itself upon all computer files and encrypt them.
Worryingly though, Locky has expanded beyond email. Exploiters are finding ways to deliver it via social media sites like Facebook and LinkedIn.
How Can I Avoid the Effects of Locky?
Locky is clearly causing some headaches, but some simple steps you can take to fend it off are:
1. Do not open any e-mail documents from untrusted sources, and certainly do not enable macros when asked.
2. If you see any image or graphic files that you do not recognise, delete them promptly. Do not open them.
3. Make sure that you back up all of your data regularly and thoroughly.
4. Whatever happens, we urge you not to pay any fee. The ransomware ‘industry’ needs to stop, and paying these criminals holds no guarantee to retrieve your data.
It is tempting to think that cyber criminals only have an interest in large companies. Contrary to this, the Federation of Small Businesses revealed last year that it is actually SMEs that are being disproportionately affected by online attacks.
At Ten Ten Systems, we can strengthen your network by identifying any security issues that may be present, and offer peace of mind with services like data backup and, should the worst happen, disaster recovery.
To learn more about ransomware and what we can do to protect your business from it, contact us today, or call in at our Chester office.