The Cryptolocker Virus: Why You Need Better Security

Nothing strikes dread in the heart of a business owner like a computer virus. Viruses can lock or corrupt your data, disrupting your daily operations and costing you precious time and money.

Guy Shurki has seen it all. He has worked in IT for twenty years, after serving for six years as an Operations Officer in the Israeli Defense Force.

His business, Shur-Net Solutions, provides comprehensive IT support for small- and medium-sized businesses in Los Angeles and Orange County.

Two of Shur-Net’s services are data backup and security education for employees, which are some of the most important tools for fighting computer viruses.

“I like the operations side of the business, I like to manage people, and I like to execute things and see that they go through,” Shurki says. “I don’t like to mess around.”

The Cryptolocker Virus: A Case Study

The Cryptolocker virus is one example of why businesses should invest in backups and IT security. It is a Trojan horse that, when downloaded, encrypts everything on your hard drive, including connected media such as USB sticks. A message appears demanding a ransom paid in Bitcoin, an untrackable electronic payment system, before the hackers will decrypt your data.

“The more expensive that Bitcoin became, the more appealing that type of virus became,” Shurki says. “In 2016, when Bitcoin shot up to $18,000, we would see those every day. There were so many being produced, and antivirus software can’t catch all of them.”

There are two options to resolve the Cryptolocker virus: pay the ransom or restore your data from backup. One of Shurki’s clients elected to pay the ransom since the hackers were only demanding about $500 in Bitcoin.

But Shurki does not recommend this option since the hackers may simply take the money and not decrypt your data. The best option is to “have a cloud backup system plus a local backup system that’s being rotated and checked on a monthly basis.”

The Cryptolocker virus typically infects a computer when a user clicks on a phishing email, which is why educating employees about identifying spam emails is crucial. Shurki runs training programs where he will send clients false phishing emails to test their readiness.

In one, he says, “five employees opened the email and gave their username and password,” demonstrating the need for such programs to train employees about IT security.

What You Need to Prevent Computer Viruses

Shurki identifies five key components that companies need to protect themselves from computer viruses:

  • Antivirus software
  • A firewall
  • Email filtering
  • Backup systems
  • Employee education

He emphasizes that these systems complement each other: “Even the best antivirus software will only catch 80% of viruses. That’s where the rest comes in.” The business should be involved at every stage, and be able to access and update their backups whenever needed.

IT consultants like Shur-Net Solutions enable business owners to rest easy, knowing that their data is safe and their employees have been trained to watch out for viruses. The next time a virus strikes, it’s best to be prepared.

About Shahbaz Ahmed

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