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Cryptolocker: The evolution of extortion

Gregg Keizer | Nov. 20, 2013
Cryptolocker, the latest ransomware, may be newsworthy, but it's been hyped, too, says expert

Shier sympathized with those whose files been encrypted by Cryptolocker, and although he stuck to the universal advice of all security experts to not pay the ransom — something that increases their return on investment and so encourages them to continue — said he understood why some may feel it's the only, or at least the least onerous, solution.

Sans backups, users facing Cryptolocker are essentially out of luck, he acknowledged. While the malware itself can be relatively easily scrubbed from the system, the already-encrypted files will remain encrypted.

One piece of advice, however, might help those who see the demand in the future. "Unplug the computer immediately," Shier said, pointing out that on a desktop PC, quick action may limit the damage because it takes time for the malware to encrypt every file it's targeted.

Sadly, Cryptolocker and its ilk won't go away until there's no profit to be made. "I don't see any evidence that [ransomware] won't continue," Shier said. "It's all about the monetization. As long as there's enough profit margin enough, they'll keep doing it."


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