Dangers of Crypto Malware

Dangers of Crypto Malware

Nearly everyone is familiar with the story of the Trojan horse. In order to end the 10-year siege on Troy, the Greek army engaged in malicious subterfuge, constructing a huge, wooden horse as a “peace offering” and leaving it at the gates of Troy before sailing away. The Trojans brought the horse inside the impenetrable walls of the city, unaware that members of the Greek army were hidden within. That night, as the Trojan forces slept, the Greeks flung open the gates to the city and let in the army that had only pretended to sail home. Thusly Troy was sacked and the war ended. 

Today, the term “Trojan horse” bears a different meaning, but the same implication. It has become synonymous with a type of malware that infiltrates computer networks in the guise of harmless or even useful files. Users let the Trojan horse into the city, so to speak, usually by clicking a link or downloading and running a file. Once the malware has been executed, it spreads through the affected computer and even the associated network, taking over files according to its programming. In many cases it also creates a backdoor where hackers can gain access to steal or destroy data. Although tech support companies can help to treat computers and networks suffering from Trojan horses, the best defense is a good offense. These viruses can only gain entry if users allow them in. 

There are many different types of Trojan horse virus, some of them are truly insidious. The CryptoLocker virus is one that has support services earning their keep. This type of Trojan horse is known as ransomware because it annexes files with specific extensions (doc, ppt, and jpg, amongst others), encrypts the data, and then asks users to pay a fee to retrieve their files, often with a time limit attached to the transaction. Even with stellar IT support, users may not be able to move fast enough to save their files, thus prompting them to pay or lose their data. 

As you can imagine, this sort of malware could wreak havoc on your business. Once a Trojan horse is in the system, it not only spreads to infect and protect itself, but, with proper coding, it can infiltrate the network your device is connected to and even send itself to your contact list, potentially infecting the systems of any personal or professional connections that open the file. The only good news is that crypto malware is relatively easy to avoid when you know what to look for. There are a few ways you can protect yourself against the damage that may be done by a CryptoLocker. 

The first thing you should know about Crypto malware is that it requires a couple of steps to install. First, users have to download a zip file contained in an email. Then they must use a password provided in the email to open the zip file. This is when the virus activates. The main problem is that the email could come from a trusted source that has been infected. Obviously, employees should never download or open files in emails from unknown sources. But you might also want to develop a policy that includes avoiding any file attachments. If this isn’t feasible for your business, there are other options. 

You can start by disabling hidden file extensions in every device running windows. Trojan horses are executable files (.exe), but they are adept at hiding the file extension. When you reveal the type of file, users will understand that they shouldn’t download or open them. You should also consider hiring a managed services provider to create a hosted backup for you. Malware attacks are not unavoidable, and you can definitely train employees to behave in a safe and responsible manner, but you should be prepared just in case your network does get infected. The right technology service vendor can provide you with the secure backup options your company needs to minimize the damage caused by malware, but it is best to avoid them altogether. This starts with training your employees to behave appropriately and avoid threats. 

From there you might want to use desktop and server maintenance to keep your network protection up-to-date. Creating an offsite backup complete with server monitoring  is essential, as well. Such diligence can cost you, but it’s a lot better than facing the damage a Trojan horse can cause and potentially compromising the future of your business in the process.