The CryptoLocker Virus: How it Works and How to Protect Yourself

CryptoLocker virus

The CryptoLocker Virus: How it Works and How to Protect Yourself

Key Points:
  • Once the CryptoLocker Virus attacks, the malicious code takes control of your system and holds it for ransom until a specific fee is paid to the hacker.
  • To avoid the virus it’s important to remove unnecessary groups from your access control lists such as domain users, everyone, or authenticated users, which make the job of the malicious code easier.
  • The best antivirus software for the CryptoLocker Virus includes BitDefender Antivirus Plus and ZoneAlarm.

CryptoLocker Virus

CryptoLocker virus
One of the most important ways to help prevent the CryptoLocker Virus is to avoid phishing attempts.

The CryptoLocker Virus is an infamous piece of ransomware that can cause extreme damage to any computer system. Once the malware attacks, the malicious code takes control of your system and holds it for ransom until a specific fee is paid to the hacker. The Cryptolocker malware is capable of eluding antivirus software and other cybersecurity efforts. The ransomware can infiltrate your system through email, downloads, and file-sharing sights. Once the infection occurs, it can be very difficult to get rid of.

The key to fighting this malware is prevention and other system safety measures. The effects of this ransomware may not always cause immediate symptoms. It is imperative to immediately remove CryptoLocker when it is discovered to prevent further damage. Now that you know what the CryptoLocker virus is, let’s take a closer look at how it works.

How it Works

Once the hacker is able to penetrate your antivirus and other cybersecurity software, the malicious code starts to scan and rename network drive folders and documents. An RSA 2048 bit-key is used by the creator to encrypt the files on your system with a file extension such as .cryptolocker or .encrypted. The hacker then creates a link to a webpage that has decryption instructions in exchange for payment via Bitcoin.

History of the Virus

The CryptoLocker Virus first surfaced on September 5, 2013 as a cyberattack, using a trojan to target computers which ran Microsoft Windows, and continued through May of 2014. It infected systems through infected email attachments and a pre-existing Gameover ZeuS botnet. The malware would encrypt varied files, then display a message saying it would decrypt them for a ransom–bitcoin or pre-paid cash voucher–by a deadline date. If the deadline was missed, the threat would grow worse and the ransom cost would rise.

The virus was easily removed, but the files themselves were virtually impossible to decrypt. Some victims paid the ransom and recovered their files, while others paid, yet their files remained encrypted. In May 2014, Operation Tovar was launched, which defeated the Gameover ZeuS botnet used to spread the malware. It’s estimated that the cybercriminals behind the CryptoLocker Virus extorted $3 million from its victims.

CryptoLocker Detection

While the creator designed the malware not to be easily detectable, it can be detected under the right circumstances and with certain cybersecurity software. The easiest way to detect the virus is by automated file access monitoring. Ransomware attacks include symptoms such as an unusually large number of file access events at a rapid pace during a short period of time. Automated software typically allows you to configure an alert at a specific number of events. This is one of the most effective ways to prevent an infection or limit the effects of the CryptoLocker virus.

If your automated software is set up to disable an account if suspicious activity is detected, it can limit the effects of the ransomware. If automation software is not possible, you can enable native auditing. This option puts a lot of strain on the system and the output can be difficult to understand.


  • Constantly monitor user behaviors and file activities.
  • Adopt a least privilege model for access to your folders.
  • Keep your folders backed up.
  • Keep antivirus and other protection software up to date.

For additional information about the CryptoLocker Virus, check out this video from SciShow. You will also learn about four other horrible computer viruses.

Ways to Prevent the CryptoLocker Virus

The creator has made it very difficult to remove the CryptoLocer Virus. For this reason, prevention and other safety measures are very important. The more accessible files on a system, the more prone it is to attacks. Damage and other symptoms will be more severe as the number of infected files increases. It is important to restrict access to as many files as possible as an important safety measure.

While antivirus software may not always detect or get rid of ransomware, it is an important layer of protection to have in the prevention of the CryptoLocker virus. It is important to remove any unnecessary groups from your access control lists. Group names like domain users, everyone, or authenticated users make the job of the malicious code easier. The infection can quickly be spread to a large number of individuals in the organization if groups like this are compromised.

The Best Antivirus Software for the CryptoLocker Virus

BitDefender Antivirus Plus

Bitdefender Antivirus Plus Subscription for 3 Devices - PC Activation Code by Email
  • One-year subscription for three devices
  • Antivirus protection for Windows PC
  • Anti-tracker keeps your browsing data private
  • Dedicated browser secures your banking transactions
  • Advanced Threat Defense monitors apps in real-time
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
02/22/2024 01:48 pm GMT

This ransomware software is very affordable and offers many layers of protection against all known malware such as CryptoLocer. It also offers a variety of other safety features.


Zone Alarm Pro 4
  • The powerful Personal Firewall protects you from any online spies, viruses, trojans or other threats
  • Complete Mailsafe tool blocks suspicious inbound and outbound emails
  • Automatic Intrusion Blocking recognizes, blocks and logs dangerous threats
  • Cache Cleaner and cookie control eliminates traces of your Internet activity
  • Hacker Tracking pinpoints the origin of anyone who tries to break into your system
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
02/21/2024 03:23 am GMT

This malware software is known to be one of the most effective against ransomware such as CryptoLocker. When tested, it was able to detect all known real-world ransomware.

Kaspersky Security Cloud Free

While it is free, this software is extremely effective against file and disk-encrypting malware.

Are you interested in learning about other computer viruses? Check out our complete guide!

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Frequently Asked Questions

How does CryptoLocker infect your computer?

Cryptolocker typically infects your computer through email, file sharing, or other phishing attempts.

How can you protect yourself from a CryptoLocker virus?

One of the best ways to prevent infection by the CryptoLocker virus is to limit access to your folders. You should also keep your antivirus and other protection software up to date. Avoid opening emails that you don’t recognize. You should also online share files with people you trust.

What is an example of a CryptoLocker virus?

Examples are ransomware such as WannaCry, Locky, Bad Rabbit, and Ryuk.

Who created the CryptoLocker virus

The virus was created by a gang led by a Russian man named Evgeniy Bogachev. The virus was distributed by the Gameover ZeuS botnet.

Where does a CryptoLocker virus come from?

The virus was created by a gang led by a Russian man named Evgeniy Bogachev. It can infect your system via email, file sharing, and various phishing attempts. The virus was distributed by the Gameover ZeuS botnet.

Is CryptoLocker safe?

The CryptoLocker ransomware is not safe and it can cause serious damage to your system. It was designed to extort money from victims by taking over their systems and demanding payment to get rid of the virus.

How was CryptoLocker stopped?

The virus was stopped in 2014 by Operation Tovar. The operation was led by the United States Department of Justice and consisted of the FBI, Interpol, a variety of private security vendors, and a number of other law enforcement agencies.

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