If the ransom is paid before the deadline, a key is given to decrypt the files. If not, the key is destroyed and the files are effectively lost forever. Even advanced software security companies don’t really have ways to restore the locked hard drive. Catching the hackers behind CryptoLocker may be the only way to retrieve the files.
The hackers are covering their tracks by using Bitcoins, a digital currency designed to be as anonymous as cash. Payments are made with a Green Dot MoneyPak, a reloadable debit card.
There is a growing trend in this type of malware, known as “ransomware,” but CrytpoLocker is the most dangerous one to pop up so far. Normally the threats are empty or the malware does something completely fixable, such as freezing the computer.
The good news is that paying the ransom does actually decrypt the files, and the hackers behind CryptoLocker so far have been honest and not reinfected computers after the ransom is paid.
Security companies are working on a protection, but there isn’t one yet. Users should remain vigilant about their security online, double-checking the legitimacy of links received in emails and social media messages.
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