There's a new virus in town, and it's a nasty piece of work. Called CryptoLocker, it's been created for one reason only – to extort money out of its victims, and acts as a wake-up call for businesses and individuals alike to make sure that they back up their data safely.
Once the trojan is in your system (typically from an email that looks like it's a legitimate business), it encrypts all of your data and informs you that you have to send the blackmailers up to £200 within 72 hours, or your data is as good as wiped. Chat around the internet shows that the criminals are good to their word too – those who have stumped up the cash get the decryption key that allows them to release their data unharmed. Those who let the deadline pass don't get the key, and their files are effectively lost. In the latest twist, the US police force have paid a bitcoin ransom in the CryptoLocker malware scam.
It's a nasty piece of work that has system admins all over the world tearing their hair out, because it is nothing more than theft. Tech discussion forums are full of businesses who say they've paid the ransom, because it's a small price to pay for the vital data they've otherwise lost. And many of these victims are guilty of one of the greatest mistakes any company can make with their computer systems – they haven't backed up their data.
Off-site backup is vital for any company that uses computer systems. Even domestic users should ensure they've got an off-site back-up for when things go wrong. There's nothing worse than losing all your photos, music and files simply because you haven't transferred them to an external drive for the day your laptop gives up the ghost.
So, this is where your USB Memory Stick comes in handy. Four, eight or sixteen gigs of data stored on a memory stick is as safe as any off-site back-up, and brings piece of mind for the day your virus software fails you, or your hard drive packs up. Instead of hundreds of pounds lost through ransomware or replacing your data, you've backed it all up for just a few pounds.