There’s a new form of hacking out there that you may not have heard of, but experts are saying it’s the worst kind of virus out there: it’s complicated, has affected hundreds of thousands of victims, and has cost the victims tens of millions in “ransom” paid to hackers.
Recently exposed on The Today Show, this virus known as “cryptolocker” disguises itself as an attachment in an email from a familiar source, like UPS or FedEx, but when you click on the attachment, it launches the virus and attacks your hard drive. Your screen turns red, a countdown clock appears and all your data is locked…until you pay the hackers’ requested ransom. And, the kicker is, the longer you wait, the more expensive it gets, and if you choose not to pay up, your data — family photos, sensitive files, music, medical records, etc. — are locked forever.
This sophisticated virus has been linked to a Russian crime ring. The crime ring’s servers have now been disabled, but unfortunately there are a number of copycat hackers out there hoping to hold your computer for ransom, too!
The best way to protect yourself and your data is to (1) back up your computer regularly, (2) use antivirus software, (3) use extreme caution when opening unknown or unfamiliar emails and attachments, and (4) consider encrypting your data with a VPN service so that hackers can’t seize control.
Watch The Today Show‘s full report on the cryptolocker virus below.
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Read more about about how a VPN can protect you from cybercriminals here.