The Honolulu Police Department wants you to be on the lookout for an email scam that’s been spreading across the world and has hit here in Hawaii.
HPD says it’s a form of online extortion called CryptoWall, an offshoot of CryptoLocker malware.
Officials say it’s sent through emails and can infect your computer, even if you don’t open an attachment.
The malware takes hold of all the files on your computer and gives you 168 hours, or seven days, to pay $500 in bitcoin, a form of digital currency, to decrypt those files.
If you don’t pay within that time, the fee will double.
“This one, unlike the others, the bitcoin is very prominent,” said Lt. John McCarthy, Honolulu Police Department. “It gives you directions on how to buy bitcoins and what to do with it. The address on the bottom, on all of the ransomware, so far is the same.”
Authorities say so far, CryptoWall has been targeting local businesses.
“It’s kind of interesting because several of the businesses have been prior victims of other scam attacks involving emails,” McCarthy said. “Businesses like CPA accounting firms, travel firms, other businesses that maintain not only credit info but personal info of clients.
“I know of one that paid it and his files were restored. He was given a key that allowed for the files to be restored. They provide the key,” he added.
HPD says keeping your antivirus software up-to-date is a good way to prevent something like this.
Also, back up your files on a regular basis, so you can restore them if your computer is infected.
“If it’s an individual on an individual computer, a Windows computer, you can simply go back to a restore point,” McCarthy said. “You would lose, if you didn’t backup anything from your restore point to the time of the infection, which for some people is relatively nothing. But for others, it could be you may lose family photos or documents you type. But with a business it’s critical. They can’t afford to lose that information.”