New Computer Virus Holds Your Information Hostage

It all starts with an email. The malware uses top-notch encryption to hold your computer files hostage. "It's because they opened a link in an email attachment. So they click on the link and follow through, and then their computer is struck by Cryptolocker," said Senior Computer Technician at Computer Rennaisance, Kevin Gardner.

"There's been viruses similar to this in the past, but this is the first one that has properly used encryption, so there's really no way to get the files back. Once a person has this virus, their only option is to restore from backup," said Director of Cyber Security Program at MSU, Shannon McMurtrey.

The way the virus works is that when your computer is infected, your data will become encrypted, and you'll be alerted to pay a ransom. The amount is usually around $300 and you can pay with cash, Moneypack, or even by Bitcoin. Bitcoin is a fairly anonymous way of exchanging money, so it's a perfect median for the bad guys to use. Experts advise against paying a ransom and instead, encourage prevention. The best defense is to use good antivirus software. Microsoft provides a package called Microsoft security essentials. "Don't click on links in email. That is the best additional defense, even if it's from a source that you trust," Gardner said.

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