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No antivirus: A customer experiences the devestating effects of a nasty virus

Antivirus could have saved Barry a lot of grief

Locked-PC-with-security-code1Antivirus is your biggest defence against internet baddies. The importance of antivirus was highlighted recently when we were visited by a customer, we shall call him Barry, who had no idea what was wrong with his laptop but he could not open any of his files. We asked Barry to leave his laptop with us so that we could investigate the issue and do our best to rectify it.

After running some diagnostics it became painfully clear that Barry’s laptop was absolutely riddled with viruses. This was due largely to the fact that he did not have any antivirus installed and this had been the case for some time; without antivirus protecting his laptop it was left wide open for invasion. So, we knew it was bad and that his laptop was in a bit of a state but what was preventing him from opening his documents, pictures and music?

It transpired that a particularly nasty virus called CryptoWall had encrypted all of his files making them completely inaccessible.

What is CryptoWall?

CryptoWall is a Ransomware virus which encrypts a victim’s files and then asks for a ransom payment to decrypt the files and restore access to the owner. Encryption is the process of encoding messages or information in such a way that only authorised parties can read it. Encryption is an incredibly secure way to store sensitive data, but in this case it was used with a sinister motive by a cybercriminal hoping to make some money.

Unfortunately for Barry, encryption is incredibly hard and in some cases virtually impossible to crack. This virus and others like it ensure that you are completely at the will of the hacker. Often, when you try and open the file it will come up with a warning informing you that your files are encrypted and you must pay a sum of money to unlock them, if you do not pay this sum in a specified time period then the cost of decrypting increases.

cryptowall-decrypt-page

Our computer files are immensely important to us and often contain sensitive information, whether it is business or personal. Therefore many people would be willing to pay any sum of money to regain access to their data. However, once you have paid the cybercriminal the money there is still no guarantee that they will release your files, in fact they could ask for more money since they now know that you are willing to cough up the cash.

Regrettably, all 701 of Barry’s files were unrecoverable.

18 instances of spyware

Besides the CryptoWall Ransomware having devastating consequences, Barry’s laptop also contained 18 instances of Spyware. Spyware is a software that aids in gathering information about a person or organisation without their knowledge or consent, often spyware will report back to an unknown entity. The information that spyware can gather includes passwords, chat sessions, usernames and bank information. They can also max out the capacity of the CPU, disk usage and network traffic and cause issues such as freezing, failure to boot and system crashes. However, sometimes they can just sit there quietly transmitting your information without causing system wide issues.

Antivirus could have saved sentimental pictures and business documents

Sadly, we had to inform Barry that his important documents, pictures of family holidays and special occasions and music were lost, we did however clear out the other viruses and install our antivirus which is known to protect against more internet threats than any other available antivirus system and would have saved Barry’s files.

If you use your computer for browsing the internet, online shopping, banking, emails, downloading applications or you transfer data to and from PC’s using memory sticks or other external storage then you need antivirus. Otherwise, you could end up like Barry.

More antivirus information:

ITC managed antivirus protection

What is antivirus? Why do I need it?

Can you trust free antivirus? Do I need antivirus for my Apple Mac?

More details on CryptoWall RansomWare

Action Fraud: Alert: New type of malware called “Cryptowall”

 

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