CryptoLocker Virus: FBI Warns People About New Malware

February 21, 2014 Updated: July 18, 2015

A new malware dubbed the “CryptoLocker” holds you files for ransom. While some are pegging it a hoax, it’s actually real–The FBI recently issued a warning to people about the virus.

Basically hackers hold your files for ransom until you pay up, demanding hundreds of dollars. And even when you pay there’s no guarantee.

“It’s essentially extortion, with all your personal documents, photos, and files at risk,” the FBI said.

The virus started going around last fall, with news about it coming out about an ABC affiliate’s computers were held hostage. 

“You buy this $300 Green Dot MoneyPak, you cannot use a credit card for it, it had to be cash or debit card. Once they claim the funds, they unlock your files. If those files had been lost, it could’ve affected 10 years’ worth of work by several departments,” Ron Thomas, the WSET’s director of engineering, said at the time. 

Anthony Mongeluzo, a computer expert, told Fox: “Ransomware causes your computer files to be non-accessible and when that happens you have two choices. You can recover if you have a backup which I hope you do or pay the ransom within 100 hours. If you do not pay the ransom you lose all of your data.”

The ransoms are usually from $100 to $300 but sometimes $700 or even higher. 

Mongeluzo said that some of the hackers are demanding the ransoms be paid in bitcoin. 

The virus is hard to detect.

“The email might look like a routine message from a legitimate company, like a tracking notice from a shipping company,” the FBI said. “If you click on the hyperlink in the email, Cryptolocker encrypts everything on your hard drive and in your shared folders.”

The best way to minimize damage is to backup your computer files often.

Follow Zachary on Twitter: @zackstieber
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