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'Cryptolocker' scam holds your computer files for ransom

by Kathy Kristof / CBS News

khou.com

Posted on March 27, 2014 at 1:26 PM

If you're not backing up your computer files on a daily basis, now may be the time, The National Consumer's League is warning about a pernicious and growing malware scam that infects users computers with something called "cryptolocker."

Spread via email, bogus websites and Facebook videos, the malware encrypts the contents of your hard-drive, making it impossible for you to retrieve your files. The moment the virus infects your computer, it tells you with a ransom note that demands hundreds of dollars in untraceable payments to "decrypt" your system. But according to the FBI, decryption is not possible.

Once files have been corrupted, the only computer that can get into them is owned by the attacker. The FBI says the only way to fix your system is to wipe it clean and restore your data with a backup copy of your files.

Naturally, the best way to deal with this nightmare is to avoid it. Make sure your security software is up to date, and don't open email files that appear suspicious. What makes files suspicious? They're sent by an unfamiliar user or appear to be coming from a friend, but with a message that seems unlikely, like "OMG. Look at this" or "This video is amazing."

If you're tempted to click on the video, reply to the sender first, asking if this came from them or if their email address has been hijacked. Waiting a few extra minutes for a response could save you a bundle in time and money.

Click here to read more at CBSNews.com.

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