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Kiwi computers held for ransom

David Hallett
Chief Nerd
Need A Nerd

EMBARGOED UNTIL THURSDAY, OCTOBER 17, 6AM:

Kiwi computers held for ransom

NEW ZEALAND, October 16, 2013: Computer users are being extorted out of hundreds of dollars by a new form of cyber-criminal who holds precious personal data to ransom.

Ransomware, a new form of malicious software also known as malware, installs itself on your computer and demands payment before it can be removed.

“We’ve seen infection grow from one customer’s machine in 2008 to 173 so far this year,” said one of Need A Nerd’s Chief Nerds David Hallett.

“It’s as though the highwayman of old tales has made the jump to the digital age and is terrorising the information super highway which we know as the internet.”

The CryptoLocker software is the newest form of ransomware.

“Upon infection it acts in stealth, silently encrypting your data. Once precious family photos, vital Microsoft Word documents, spreadsheets and email are all encoded it sends the unique encryption key to the writer and the ransom begins,” Hallett warns.

CryptoLocker demands you pay a ransom of several hundred dollars or face the deletion of the encryption key in three days.

“Unless you pay the ransom, you will lose access to any files that have been encrypted.”

Hallett described the new threat as more severe than the FBI or NZ Police virus which accuses users of criminal activity online and seeks payment to make the computer usable again.
“It’s important to understand that the CryptoLocker ransomware is not bluffing,” Hallett warns.

Internet security software, such as ESET Smart Security or Norton 360 Multi-Device, might protect you from CryptoLocker but the writers of ransomware are always trying to find their way around it.

“Because new versions of ransomware are being released frequently, it is important that systems are receiving regular virus database updates,” Hallett says.

“The simple way to avoid being snared as a victim of this new and effective form of ransomware is to ensure you regularly backup your files to an external location.”

ABOUT NEED A NERD
Need A Nerd is a specialist onsite computer and technology service with branches all over New Zealand. For more see www.needanerd.co.nz

ENDS

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