What Is a Trojan Virus and How Can You Keep Your Files Safe From Trojan Threats?
Cryptolocker first appeared in 2013. It was a new kind of trojan virus – an ordinary-looking file that, when opened, releases malware into your computer. Cryptolocker’s twist was that it would encrypt all the files on your machine and demand a ransom to decrypt them. It also displayed a timer and if you didn’t pay before it ran out your files would be gone forever.
In June 2014, cybersecurity experts were able to neutralise Cryptolocker. Also, they were able to indict the head of the crime syndicate responsible for it. The bad news, however, is that other criminals had already started work on copycat Trojans.
Now ‘CryptoWall’ and ‘TorrentLocker’ are making the rounds. These are forcing many Australian business owners to choose between financing illegal activity and surrendering valuable data. So what can you do to protect yourself from these programs?
Prevention is better than cure with the Trojan Virus
Unfortunately, there’s no ‘cure’ for CryptoWall and TorrentLocker. If you decide not to pay the ransom, you’re unlikely to ever retrieve your files. How can you prevent your computer or network from being attacked? Both CryptoWall and TorrentLocker spread using false attachments that usually arrive with unsolicited emails. For example, the Australian Communications and Media Authority has warned consumers to be on guard against emails that appear to come from Australia Post but contain suspicious attachments. To stay safe, it’s a good idea to introduce rules on how to treat unwanted emails.
You should also take steps to limit damage in case of an infection. For example, Spiceworks has released a CyberLocker Prevention Kit that also works for the CyberLocker clones – it isolates infected computers and can prevent the Trojan from spreading through your network. You can apply the same changes automatically to a single computer using the CryptoPrevent tool. And of course, you should always also use a strong and regularly updated antivirus program with active scanning.
Back up regularly
Backing up your files is the most important step you can take towards protecting yourself from ransomware. With regular backups, you can restore important files. However, it is vitally important that you back up your files to an external source. Otherwise, a Trojan like Cryptowall might encrypt your backup files too.
Consider your cloud solution
In July 2015, Heimdal Security reported that CryptoWall 3.0 had begun to spread to files stored in Google Drive, the popular online storage service. At around the same time, Cryptowall was also detected in Dropbox. Many users were in shock to learn that they couldn’t retrieve their files from these sites – and that’s why it’s so important to distinguish between file syncing and file backups.
File syncing services like Google Drive and Dropbox immediately mirror changes to files on your computer or network. However, they don’t perform incremental backups, which means that you can’t retrieve an earlier version of a new encrypted file. That’s where cloud backup services come in. Not only do they back up files in real-time, but they also save copies of each file version in a separate location for future retrieval.
So, if you’ve moved to the cloud, ensure you’re using best practice backup procedures. And if you use Google Drive, consider a service like Backupify which automatically copies your files on Google Drive to a secure location.
Keeping ahead of the crypto-villains
According to the FBI, CryptoWall infections cost American consumers US $18 million dollars between April 2014 and June 2015. And in Australia, TorrentLocker alone has infected more than 9,000 computers, demanding payments of up to AU$1,500. Make no mistake – they’re dangerous programs and can paralyse your business if you’re unlucky enough to open the wrong attachment. So be proactive, educate your colleagues, and make sure that your files are out of harm’s way.
Cybersecurity with Onsite Helper
Onsite Helper is the leading Google Workspace partner in Melbourne, Victoria, and all over Australia. We specialise in Managed IT, cloud, and online security solutions. If you want to protect the sensitive data of your small to medium-sized business, you’ve come to the right place. Talk to Onsite Helper today and we can help elevate your business’s cybersecurity to the next level – protecting you from Trojan virus and other threats!