Virus Warning: CryptoWall
To our valued clients and colleagues:

We are seeing a nasty mutation of the CryptoLocker virus called CryptoWall.
This virus is a form of a Trojan horse and is considered “ransomware."  This means that the hacker will install malware onto your computer and will want to exact some type of payment from you in order to set your data free.  In this virus, your Word, Excel, PDF, Photo and other files can become encrypted or corrupt and despite the removal of the virus itself, the files may be virtually impossible to decode. In addition, anti-virus software does not typically "see" this as a threat since the virus behaves much like a user would.

Be on the lookout for these warning signs as they might indicate your computer has been compromised and call us immediately.  

You receive an error message when trying to open certain files such as:  .doc, .xls or .pdf, it might appear as if you opened the file in the wrong
program as the data served up may be garbled or not properly displayed.
Your computer is responding slow and/or internet access is slow
You may get more than the usual number of pop up notifications from your anti-virus software
Your desktop, documents and other folders may show these three files.

Note: If you click on any of these files, you will find your “hijacker’s” ransom note with step by step instructions for removing the malware once you “pay up.”

Things to do this Holiday Season.

When at work, remind employees NOT to access personal emails or do personal shopping on line.  Better yet, avoid shopping on-line at all.
When accessing a viable website, do not click on ad links to other sites.  Instead, enter all of your URL's directly.  Even “safe” pages on MSN, AOL and YAHOO have been compromised by this virus.
Make a habit to use safe internet practices.

So how can I recover my files if my computer is infected with CryptoWall?

Back up.  Back up.  Back up.  The most effective way to recover your files is by using a backup.  If your files have been backed up regularly, you can connect your backup drive to a computer that does not have the virus and check your files.  If all is clean and there is no sign of infection you can reconnect the drive and restore your data.
For those that back up to the cloud, there may be a way to sanitize your computer before restoring the data from the cloud.
If no backup -- local or cloud-based -- are available, then the only chance at file recovery may be through a system recovery.  This should be considered and handled on a case by case basis.
What else can I do to protect my computers?

Proactively monitor and manage your server.
Have an active antivirus application installed with the latest virus definition files.
Have a malware scanner with active scanning capabilities and the latest definition files.
Institute a proper back up system with a local and cloud based back up schedule.

Contact our office immediately, if you feel that your computer has been compromised or may be infected with the CryptoWall virus.