Crypto-Locker Ransomware Attacks in NZ are Increasing – How to Stay Safe

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Crypto Locker Ransomware graphic with security lock digital

What is a Crypto Locker Ransomware Attack?

First hitting headlines in 2013, a ransomware attack is when your computer is infected with malicious malware that uses encryption to lock you out of your computer.

Once infected by Ransomware like Crypto Locker or Wannacry, these viruses encrypt all of your computer’s files with a special key, which from that moment on is the only way to unlock and regain access to your computer.

Ransomware cryptocurrency warning scam example

The Ransomware will then tell you that you need to pay a specific amount of Bitcoin or Ethereum to an address that they provide, promising that if you do so you will be sent the private key to unlock and regain control of your computer.

The ransoms for these attacks can range in price from $50 all the way up to $50,000 and beyond – and in 2019, there was a 38% increase in ransomware attack reports across New Zealand.

Your first move as a ransomware victim is to immediately contact the New Zealand Government’s Computer Emergency Response Team, otherwise known as CERTNZ. You can find a link to their website here:  https://www.cert.govt.nz/

Both individuals and businesses can fall victim to ransomware attacks. However, preventing data losses is possible.

How Ransomware cryptolockers get downloaded and installed onto victim computers

Should You Pay a Ransomware Attack Ransom?

As a rule, it is not advisable to ever pay a ransomware attack ransom. All paying a ransom does is let attackers know that you may make a suitable target for further attacks. There is also never a guarantee that attackers will help you recover your files.

Of course, not paying attackers is easier said than done. If you store valuable or sensitive data on your PC, you might have no alternative. This is why it is vital for all PC users to regularly backup sensitive data.

  • Prevent a ransomware attack from resulting in data or financial losses by regularly backing up PC files to air-gapped storage mediums.
  • Never store private keys for any cryptocurrency you own on an Internet-connected computer.
  • Remember to regularly scan PCs for malware using a reliable antivirus.

It is also worthwhile boosting personal and business network security using firewalls and other network security devices.

To see our extensive guide on one way to maximise the security of your cryptocurrency to safe-proof yourself for the off chance you experience a ransomware attack, click here.

Faceless Hooded Bitcoin Hacker

What if I Need to Pay Attackers?

If you suffer a ransomware attack and have no backup of files you risk losing, you may have no alternative but to pay a ransom.

At Easy Crypto in New Zealand, we make it easy to buy Bitcoin instantly. However, we don’t recommend that Kiwis buy Bitcoin just to pay ransomware attackers. Even if you feel that you have no other option, it will always pay to first seek help from an IT professional.

  • Fake ransomware exists that looks real but can be easily removed without risking you losing your PC files.
  • It is sometimes possible to recover files by restoring a PC to a recent system restore point.
  • Some ransom malware copies and deletes files before encrypting data. When this is the case, it is sometimes possible to recover original files that have been deleted, even if encrypted copies are irrecoverable.

If your computer has been infected with ransomware or a crypto locker, immediately contact the New Zealand Government’s Computer Emergency Response Team.

Two computers exchanging money and Bitcoin BTC Cryptocurrency NZ New Zealand

Ransomware Prevention is Always Easier Than Ransomware Recovery

In recent years, ransomware attackers have begun lowering ransom amounts. This way, attackers give targets more of an incentive to pay. It is important to remember, though, that attackers are criminals.

When you pay a ransom, you have no assurance that attackers won’t target you again at some point. This being the case, never leave your cybersecurity to chance. Instead, always backup sensitive data, and never execute a suspicious file without first scanning files with an up to date antivirus.