The so-called Crypto Locker Virus, a computer infection that holds files "hostage" unless owners pay a ransom of $100 within 100 hours, is making its way around the Internet and has already affected at least one television station.
The Crypto Locker Virus disguises itself at times as a UPS and FedEx document and hides inside attachments, according to reports from several television stations. Once opened, a red screen pops up, demanding $100 or the files on the computer will be destroyed.
Ron Thomas, WCFT-TV's director of engineering in Birmingham, Ala., told KATV
in Little Rock, Ark., that his station had to pay $300 to save files at its television station.
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"One of our producers was sent an attachment that the subject line said it was from an administrator," Thomas told KATV. "And it had a file attached and the producer thought it was a legitimate file and she clicked on it. And when she did, it was a red screen that popped up and said crypto locker."
Thomas told sister station WHTM-TV
in Harrisburg, Pa. that the virus gave the station directions of where to pay to save its files. ()
"You buy this $300 Green Dot MoneyPak, you cannot use a credit card for it, it had to be cash or debit card," Thomas told WHTM-TV. "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."
WHTM-TV reported that the Crypto Locker Virus is so new and elusive that technology experts have not found a way to destroy the virus once a computer is infected.
"It will disguise itself as JPEG images, as PDF files, as Microsoft Office files," Troy Viers, an information technology specialist for WSET told WHTM-TV. "If you get an email from somebody you do not know, especially if it's got attachments, don't open anything with it, just delete the email."
Computer expert Anthony Mongeluzo told WTXF-TV
in Philadelphia that some victims of the Crypto Locker Virus have paid as much as $700 to retrieve their files.
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"The way they're accepting payments is bit coin, a new form of cash that's been making headway on the Internet. It's used for lot of illegal activities." Mongeluzo said. "With technology, if you don't have that exact key you can never recover your data."
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