Computer scammers hold files to ransom

CAUTION: Max Mundy of Codas Computers says be wary of all things on the internet. Picture: Jason Hollister.BUSINESSES and householders have been warned about a new version of an email scam that freezes computer files and holds the files to ransom.

To protect against the scam, businesses and householders have been told to ensure all their computer files are backed up properly.

Ransomware is a virus that won’t release computer files until a ransom is paid. The new version of the scam is called Cryptowall, which encrypts files so they cannot be read or seen.

The virus infects computers through a credible looking email not sent by the source it appears to have come from.

In most cases a demand is made for payment in Bitcoin because it is virtually untraceable.

Max Mundy, of Codas Computers at Ulverstone, said one person had brought their computer in after being hit by the scam.

“We’ve only had one computer to fix but there are some other hotspots dealing with [the ransomware scam],” Mr Mundy said.

When the Tasmanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry was affected by the scam it paid $350 to recover its files.

Mr Mundy said the best advice was to always have computer files backed up no matter what, and to avoid the trap in the first place rather than have to wonder what to do after it happens.

“Don’t go downloading random things, and always be wary with everything on the internet,” Mr Mundy said.

Mr Mundy advised avoiding random emails and watching out for emails that pretended to be sent from other people or other sources.

“Don’t get tricked into downloading programs that are unneeded,” he said.

Mr Mundy said people could bring computers in to have files backed up to an external drive.

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