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Malware holds personal computer files for ransom | News

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Malware holds personal computer files for ransom

Seminole, Florida -- A thief did not have to break into a family-owned body shop in Seminole to steal valuables and hold them hostage.

"Last month, we had a pop-up on our main computer that read that all our files would be destructed within a couple of days if we didn't pay a thousand dollars," said Tyler DePergola of Jim's Body Shop.

The computer was not only filled with important business information, but also thousands of family vacation photos.

DePergola's family business had fallen victim to an online shakedown scheme known as Cryptolocker.

Malicious software hijacked their personal computer and demanded a $1,000 ransom payment to regain access to their own personal information.

Federal warning on Cryptolocker

Fortunately for DePergola, all the files were backed up so the ransom was not paid.

"Your pictures, your music, your documents, your videos, Quicken and QuickBooks' financial data, Internet favorites, emails everything like that it can get it hands on," said Ryan Malize, owner of Pinellas Computers.

Cryptolocker gets onto a personal computer when a user clicks on spoof email attachments.

When the virus activates, victims receive an on-screen message that requires them to pay a ransom within a set time or the information will be lost forever.

The FBI has identified Russian cyber thief Evgeniy Bogachev as the ring leader, but he remains beyond the grasp of U.S. law in Russia.

Once Cryptolocker encrypts your personal files, experts say that not much can be done to fix the problem, but precautions can be taken beforehand to decrease your chances of being attacked.

"Backup is the insurance and antivirus in the protection upfront so with those two things in place, 99% of people are going to be OK," Malize said.



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