The CryptoLocker virus has been making the rounds in the news lately, and well it should. If you get infected, the virus will encrypt everything on your harddrive and on drives that are attached via the network. You then get a message saying that you have a few days to pay them ~$500 to get the data unencrypted or they will wipe it all. It’s quite clever and now that people see how successful this type of attack is, I’m guessing we’ll be seeing a lot more of them.
How do you protect yourself from this? Well obviously you need to be careful when you’re opening attachments in your email, but in the end, it’s pretty much impossible to guarantee that you’ll never get a virus on your computer.
So if you think about this, it’s a lot like the situation where your hard drive fails. All of a sudden, you no longer have access to all of the data on your computer. The only difference is that now the odds of that happening to you have increased (and they were already huge to begin with since all hard drives fail eventually and many of them fail after just a few years.)
The answer to both problems is the same: BACK UP YOUR DATA. If we somehow get CryptoLocker in my house, and even if it encrypts every hard drive we have, I won’t lose any of my data. It’s all backed up in the cloud and the cloud backup has versions so even if it somehow overwrites my backups with encrypted data, I can just sync back to the point before the virus and get my data back.
What would happen if you got the virus right now? The good news is that if you don’t have a plan, you can be quite safe for just $50/year. I’m not getting paid by Crashplan.com, but I love their service and highly recommend it. Set it up on your computer and then forget about it. Your data gets backed up all the time without any intervention from you. Then you can rest easy and know that your data is safe!
It’s not a matter of if your hard drive will stop working or it gets hit by a virus like CryptoLocker, it’s a matter of when. Be prepared.