This global spam message contains a malicious virus in the attachment. Code named “Crypto Locker”, it is already considered to be an historically devastating virus because it holds your computer hostage until you pay a fee. This latest effort is part of a growing area of computer crime known as “ransom ware”. If the virus is allowed to run on the computer, it encrypts all of the files, attached USB and backup drives, as well as files on department files shares that may be open. A notice appears indicating what has happened, and demanding payment of various amounts between $100-$500 in order to get the key to unlock the data. Even when paid, it has been reported that the key does not always work. Evidence indicates that the encryption can not be undone.
The emails arrive in legitimate-looking formats from companies such as Fedex, UPS, and DHL, and contain a zip attachment in the file under the disguise of a PDF. Please be on a heightened state of awareness for any such messages that may make it to your inbox, and report them as phishing to Google. We remind you that you should always be aware and cautious of opening any attachments that you receive. In addition to these two baseline defenses, having a backup of your files in case of such an attack is the only sure way that you do not experience a complete loss. Your DCC or ITSC can discuss backup options available to you.