Emails Linking to a “Windows 10 Upgrade” Actually Encrypts Your Files and Forces You to Pay a Ransom to Get Them Back
Windows 10 was recently released, exciting the many Microsoft users who were eager to wash out the bad taste that Windows 8 left in their mouths… but this much-anticipated release has attracted some attention from cybercriminals as well.
You may receive an email, as many people already have, that contains a link that supposedly directs you to free upgrade to Windows 10.
Don’t follow that link.
That link will actually end up infecting your computer with CTB-Locker, yet another one of the many ransomware programs that have made ransomware one of the fastest growing trends in the cybercrime threat landscape.
So, what is ransomware? What does CTB-Locker do, exactly?
First, CTB-Locker will encrypt your important files. Documents, photos, videos, databases: the works. Then, your screen will display a message that explains why you can’t access your files, shows you all of the files that have been encrypted, and tells you that if you don’t send over a ransom (usually somewhere between a few hundred and a couple thousands dollars) in the next 96 hours (4 days), all those files will be lost forever.
Microsoft actually does offer free upgrades to Windows 10, on the condition that you already have Windows 7 or 8. But they’re not going to send you an email about it. For that free upgrade, follow these instructions from Microsoft (and we assure you, that link is actually safe).
This recent scam highlights a much larger issue: to keep your network secure and avoid ransomware (as well as the class-action lawsuits and regulatory fines that often result from an online security breach), don’t follow any links or download any attachments from any source you’re not 100% sure is legitimate.