CryptoLocker – A threat plaguing Canadian universities

There is a very dangerous and malicious threat attacking Canadian universities known as CryptoLocker.

CryptoLocker is malware that arrives attached to an email, usually inside of a zip file and attempts to extort money from computer users. This kind of computer infection can be considered as ransomware.

When your computer is infected with a CryptoLocker, the program begins encrypting any files it can access. These can be files on your hard drive, on USB keys or drives and even network drives in public environments. Once the files are encrypted you will be presented with a notice like the one below which gives you a limited time to pay a ransom to get a key to decrypt and get access to your files. Currently, infected users are instructed to pay $100 USD to get access to their files.



1.       Inform yourself: Never open an .exe file that you receive via email. Beware of any attachment that is sent to you from someone you don’t know. Even if you know the person, verify that it was something they sent with a purpose.

2.       Download Microsoft System Center Endpoint Protection: the university has licensed this anti-virus software for all university Windows and Mac computers. This free software is available to current students, employees, and alumni with university-owned computers. For personally-owned computers, there are a number of free anti-virus software products that are available for your use.

3.       Backup your files: An effective daily backup solution is essential in order to be able to restore files that are not infected. We recommend using hard drives that you unplug regularly or use an online service. These types of backups are physically separated from your computer so CryptoLocker can’t get to them.

For more information, contact:
ICT Help Desk: