Jacksonville, FL - It’s a new virus that not just threatens to make your computer all but worthless, but to potentially compromise all your personal information.
The Better Business Bureau of Northeast Florida has issued a new warning about a specific version of “ransom-ware” called “Cryptolocker”. The virus encrypts all the files on your computer and doesn’t allow you to access them without paying hundreds of dollars to get a key, that may not even work.
“Once you send the money, they just take your money and don’t send you the key- so you’re still stuck,” says Northeast Florida BBB President Tom Stephens.
Stephens says the virus can be accessed a few different ways, like through an email attachment or a website. He says websites depicting illicit material are especially susceptible, as are those where someone disseminating the virus could be part of designing the page and loading it to users.
And losing access to your files is not the only concern.
“If they can encrypt the file so you can’t get to them yourself, they can also get information out of the files,” Stephens says.
Other than avoiding suspicious attachments or websites, Stephens says the best way to safeguard yourself is to back up your computer through either an external hard drive or a trusted online provider, because the virus itself can be erased.
“That was once you clean the virus off, you can just reload your files again,” he says.
But if you use an external drive, be sure to unplug it after you back up the computer, or those files become at risk to the virus as well.
While other versions of this virus, which commonly lock up your entire computer, have been around before, Stephens says this is the first time they’ve seen this specific strand and the first time it’s surfacing in the region.