We are getting inquires about the new CryptoLocker virus that has been infecting computers. This is a particulary egregious virus. The virus gets into your machine in the usual way--the user must open a file or click on a link making it more essential than ever to use extreme caution when opening unknown files or questionable links.
CryptoLocker works by encrypting certain files on the computer or server so they are unreadable then offering the decryption key for a ransom. The encryption is virtually unbreakable and the ransom recipients are untraceable. Paying the ransom may or may not get you the key and the key may work or it might not (and it's never a good idea to reward a criminal if you can help it).
Businesses are especially vulnerable as their data is irreplaceable. But anyone can become a victim. For a list of the most commmon file “extension” (the .doc or .jpg part of the file name) that are being targeted, check out this link:
For information on this virus check out:
What can users do to protect themselves from this virus?
Backup, backup, backup: Businesses should keep monthly backups as well as employing a rotating system of daily backups going back two weeks. These backups should not be kept on the same machine as the documents as the backup could be come vulerable to the virus. Individuals should back up when they add new files to their computer that they consider irreplaceable such as photos. Dragging and dropping new files to an external drive works very well for the average user.
Keeping your machines up-to-date with operating system service packs and software updates as they become available is essential. These updates are designed to close loopholes that allow in viruses. You can use a utility such as Ninite http://ninite.com/ for updating your programs.
Use an Anti-virus or internet security program and keep it updated. Set it up for active protection and use the scan function on your anti-virus software daily.
Do not download mail to your machine. When you download mail to Outlook or Vista Mail, Windows Live Mail, Thunderbird, etc, you are bringing everything to your machine. This makes you more vulnerable. Use an on-line mail service such a Gmail.
Browsers: If you are a business, don’t allow web browsing that is not essential to your business. Individuals should keep their browsers version as current as possible and up to date. Windows Explorer is still the biggest target for hackers and versions lower than 8 are especially vulnerable.
Do not open documents or link that you are not absolutely sure about. If a friend sends a link promising a cute video, check with your friend before opening it especially if the email does not seem right. Don't open links even when you get an email that appears to be from a reputable organization such as FedEx or UPS about a package. If you didn't order something, this is probably a phishing expedition to get you to click on the link so that the download of malware can commense.
POP UPS: Do not click on them. If you get a popup that is a warning and wants you to click on something don’t click on anything, not even to shut down your browser. Shut down your machine by pressing the button on the computer itself. This is hard on your computer but better than getting infected. When you reboot the computer and open the browser do not restore the session or you will be right back where you were when you got the pop up.
Criminals are getting more and more devious so protect yourself and keep good backups of your important data!
2014 will mark the 15th year that Dennis has been serving the computing needs of local residents and businesses in Burnett County, first as ATM (Allaman Technical Market) and then as CrexTechs.
Here is a short history of CrexTechs:
CrexTechs was founded as Allaman Technical Market, LLC in 1999 by science teacher, Dennis Allaman. During his career as a science teacher and later as the first technical coordinator for Grantsburg Schools, Dennis was busy with a number of avocational pursuits from portrait and wedding photography to bee keeping.
The concept behind Allaman Technical Market was to create a market place, here in Grantsburg and online, where people could come to shop for and get help with anything technical. Desktop and laptop PC sales and service as well as anti-virus protection and computer cleanup have always been our mainstays even while we provide a full range of products and services.
While Dennis' vision originally included creating cutting edge entertainment and technical installations for the residential consumer, builders had not yet caught up to the notion that people would willingly pay for state-of-the-art systems built into and throughout their homes for computing, gaming, sound and video. Still today, most builders use electricians to wire for electronics instead of using technical contractors who understand the options and requirements of the industry. CrexTechs is available to consult on such projects.
Over the years CrexTechs has employed highly talented students and graduates of the Grantsburg Schools who have brought with them a love of technology and a deep understanding of how technology can be incorporated into our lives to enrich our experience. A few of these individuals have gone on to careers in technology across the country.
CrexTechs gets its name from Crex Meadows, a world renown bird sanctuary and nature preserve that is almost in our backyard. Crex Meadows takes its name from the old Crex Carpet Company that harvested, for rug making, the Carex species of wire grass surrounding the shallow flowages that this area of Wisconsin is known for. CrexTechs has had a long association with Crex Meadows donating labor to the outdoor education center and coordinating the annual December bird count.
The CrexTechs logo symbolizes, through the green leaf and the three gold circuits, the ideal of achieving a balance between technology and nature. We are dedicated to the concepts of reuse, reduce, and recycle. We offer free recycling of used components. Where possible we encourage our customers to consider repair or upgrade before buying new. With permission we refurbish recycled items for resale.
Watch throughout 2014 for special offers celebrating our 15 years of service to the Grantsburg area!