In the malware family you’ve got more than your share of destructive “wares” — one of them being ransomware. Ransomware is defined as “a type of malware which restricts access to the computer system it infects and demands a ransom to be paid to the creator of the malware in order for the restriction to be removed.” VIRLOCK is just one type of ransomware — there are many variants.

Probably the most destructive ransomware known to exist was called CryptoLocker, a ransomware trojan that infected computers running Microsoft Windows in September of 2013. Before it could be contained in May of 2014, it was said that CryptoLocker creators had extorted around $3 million from victims. Since that time, there have been many CryptoLocker copycats on the scene — VIRLOCK is one of the latest.

VIRLOCK’s Path of Destruction

Once PE  VIRLOCK, has infected your computer system, it begins to modify and create registry entries to prevent detection. Once executed, your computer screen typically locks, your files become infected and a ransom is demanded in exchange for the code to decrypt your files. In fact, this VIRLOCK is so sophisticated, that it actually checks your location before displaying a personalized ransom message.

“At that point, your options are to restore from backup, pay the ransom or accept the loss,” explains Bryan Levy, vClient Advisor at United Data Technologies. “In one instance, we actually contacted the FBI and they said there was nothing they could do.”

One thing that makes VIRLOCK different from other types of ransomware is that once it gets into a computer or a system network, it triggers an infectious chain. Even if the affected files are stored on a removeable drive, VIRLOCK can easily invade a computer once connected.

Prevention Tactics

While some protection is better than no protection, the more layers you have, the better. “You want to put the proper processes in place and the education to prevent it — that’s really the best course of action,” says Levy. However, Levy also warns that some preventative technology can affect the performance of your network.

Here are a few things you can do now to help prevent an attack:

  1. Use email filtering, anti-virus software and intrusion protection
  2. Be weary of removable drives — if you don’t know what kind of files have been stored on it, don’t connect it
  3. Train your staff to avoid suspicious websites, emails and links

Backup Plans

Often it’s your company’s backup strategy that determines whether or not you’ll fully recover from a ransomware attack. If you backed up your data before the attack, you may be able to recover most of your data. But if you perform a backup after your files were encrypted, VIRLOCK could also affect files stored in backup. “We had a customer who had a virus like this and their entire file server got corrupted,” said Levy. “We had to do a restore from 24 hours before, because at that point, the server hadn’t been backed up yet. It took us 24-36 hours to recover all of the data.”

Another Line of Defense

VIRLOCK is definitely one destructive technology you’ll want to avoid. If you’re concerned that your company’s network could be at risk, contact UDT. We’d be happy to take a look at your current protection strategy as well as your current backup plan and suggest preventative measures that make sense for your business and your budget.