A new, particularly nasty ransomware called CryptoLocker can hold your files hostage – maybe for good, according to The Cleveland Plain Dealer.
As of right now, there’s no fix for it. Sophos Labs reports that, once CryptoLocker infiltrates your computer, it ferrets out and encrypts your files. The scammers behind the malware then demand a ransom of around $300 for the encryption key so you can access your files again.
Techs often can remove ransomware that freezes computers, but in this case, encrypted files aren’t as easy to fix. If you haven’t backed up your computer files, you may have little choice but to pay the data-nappers to try to retrieve them. However, before you do, take your computer to a trusted tech to evaluate the problem.
Consider the following to keep your computer virus-free:
- Avoid clicking on email attachments unless you know who sent the files and what they are.
- Be careful when surfing for shopping, music or celebrity sites. Some spoof sites specialize in infecting visitors’ computers through “drive-by” downloads of malware.
- Keep anti-virus and software patches up to date.
- Back up your files regularly so that if you must do a clean install – wiping the computer and reinstalling software – you won’t lose your work or photos.
For more virus-preventing tips you can trust, visit Microsoft’s Safety & Security Center, which includes some free anti-virus protection software as well as practical advice for protecting your computer. Report ransomware and other computer crimes to the federal site www.ic3.gov and to BBB Scam Stopper.