Warning: CryptoLocker virus holds computers ransom

A new online extortion cyber threat called CryptoLocker could affect anyone who has a computer, and especially people who use Facebook. If you activate the program, a message appears and tells you to pay money or your computer will be locked.

“It’s a social engineering attack where the malware tricks you to activate it, so it doesn’t just infect your machine, it has to have some interaction with the user,” explained cybercrime expert Chris Duque. “You can get it on e-mail, as an attachment or .pdf file. It could be an image that’s on the e-mail itself. You could get it from surfing the web.”

One of the most likely places to run across CryptoLocker is on Facebook.

“You may want to click on the video, but all of a sudden you get a message that says you need to download this application to run this video,” Duque said. “Chances are that application that you’re going to download and open on your computer is some sort of malware and, in the worst case scenario, it’s CryptoLocker.”

At that point, Duque says, your computer becomes a brick. Duque says the threat isn’t empty – the operator of the virus can make your computer unusable – and businesses need to pay special attention to the potential of CryptoLocker.

“In a business, you have financial data, personal information for third parties, so it may affect a business in a legal sense and a business is responsible for protection of the data of their clients also,” he said.

Duque backs up his computer data daily, saying there is no foolproof protection against viruses and the bad guys.

“It’s a cat and mouse game,” he said. “You may buy a computer product, a software product off the shelf an hour ago, but by the time you have it installed, new mutations of that same virus have already been created.”

For more information on the CryptoLocker virus, click here.

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