If you don’t regularly back-up your computer or scan for viruses, now is the time to start.

A dangerous new computer virus is attacking millions of computers and demanding ransom in money orders or Bitcoins. How does it work? The virus works as ransomware which disables user access to their computer until a “ransom payment” has been made.

Whether or not you users are able to “access” their computer after the ransom has been paid remains to be seen. However, it serves as a reminder to regularly back-up your computer and keep your antivirus software up-to-date.

So how can you avoid this nightmare of a computer virus? Let’s take a look.

 

Fake Emails: More Dangerous Than You Think

Photo of Harddrive Being Held Up

Pay up or lose your files

Originating in the U.K., the computer virus has made the jump across the pond to U.S. Computers.

The National Crime Agency in the U.K. estimates that hackers have targeted “tens of millions” of computers and this figure is likely higher since the virus went international.

How easy is it to become a victim? All it takes is opening the wrong email. From Business Insider:

“Much of the time, the virus comes attached as an email. The attachment is often a fake FedEx and UPS tracking notice, the Homeland Security Cybercrime unit warns. That’s particularly dangerous during the holiday shopping season when many people are shipping packages.”

If you’re shipping packages this holiday season, be very wary of the emails you open. You just might click on a fake FedEX or UPS email and end up with a pop-up message demanding money. That’s when the fun starts.

 

You Have 100 Hours to Pay or Else

Those who are unfortunate enough to get this virus receive a prompt: pay up or else. Victims are told they have a limited amount of time to pay a ransom before they are locked out of their computer. If they don’t pay up, it’s game over.

It’s all due to a virus called CryptoLocker. Here’s Business Insider‘s breakdown: 

“CryptoLocker is a form of a virus called “ransomware,” meaning hackers do something bad to your computer and then remand money to reverse what they’ve done. In this case, CryptoLocker encrypts the files on your computer. Then you get a pop-up notice on your computer telling you that you must pay if you want your files back.”

The hackers may want $100. They may want Bitcoins instead. The virus even gives you the option to pay through MoneyPak, a site that offers pre-paid credit cards which are virtually untraceable.

However, once the ransom has been paid, it’s entirely possible that users will receive another prompt eventually demanding more money.

 

Protect Yourself From CryptoLocker

Your computer and your files are important. Computer viruses and hackers threaten the safety of your the private information, which can lead to identity theft and other problems.

Update and scan your computer with antivirus software on a regular basis. It doesn’t take long and is worth it in the long run. If you run into any problems, deal with them quickly so you don’t run into any issues down the line.

Photo of External Harddrive

External hard drives are a cheap way to backup your files

It’s also wise to backup your computer on a regular basis. You don’t want to go through the hassle of reformatting your computer because of a virus. Backups keep you ready to bounce-back from viruses and other computer problems.

 

What Do You Think?

Has your computer been affected by the CryptoLocker virus? How did you unlock your computer? Did you pay the ransom to access your files again? Let us know in the comments section!

 

See Also

So What’s the Difference Between Antivirus and Anti-Malware Software?
Email Spoofing Explained: Protect Yourself from Fake Sender Danger
Hackers Use Scandalous Webcam Footage to Blackmail Teen into Robbing Parents

About The Author

Sean O'Connor is a writer and graduate from Loyola Marymount University. He is a self-described hoops fanatic who resides in Pasadena.

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