A New Computer Virus Asking for Random Money Has made It's Way Into the Tri-Cities
We want to warn you about a new computer virus that's spreading around the world.
It's called the Crypto Locker Virus and it has made its way into the Tri-Cities.
Like most computer viruses, the Crypto Virus is downloaded through an attachment from an email. Once it's on your computer, it locks all of your files and in a new twist, asks for ransom money to obtain the key for you to get your files back.
"I walked into my office Monday morning and turned on my computer and saw a horrible screen that said 'Crypto Virus,'" said Leila Noonan.
Noonan is the catering director at Shilo Inn in Richland.
She's been spending the last few days playing catch up after losing all her work files to the new dangerous virus.
"It has a list of files that it goes through and encrypts which basically locks you out completely of those files until you get the key, so without that key your files are lost," said Shawn Winget, owner of Wintech Computer Services in Kennewick.
How do you obtain that key? You literally have to pay ransom money.
It can be anywhere from $100-$700 that has to be paid through an untracebale payment method like a pre-paid credit card.
You only have a 72-hour window to do it before your files are gone forever.
Computer techs said everyone they know who has paid the money was able to get their files back.
The techs also said law enforement agencies and anti-virus companies recommend not paying it.
"The problem is if everyone is paying then it just incentivzes the criminals to continue doing it," said Winget. "But some people have no choice if you don't have the back up."
The only upside is computer techs said whoever is behind the Crypto Virus seems to only be interested in money and not stealing any personal information.
"It doesn't steal your files at all, pretty much what it does is it leaves them there and locks them," said Sal Bueno, a computer technician from Cline Computers.
After living through a hectic week due to the Crypto Virus, noonan has some advice.
"It's hard copies, backup and a tougher antivirus program," said Noonan.
The virus typically comes in on an email that looks like it's from FedEx, UPS or a university regarding a package and one tech told me businesses are especially targeted because they are more likely to open up an email about a package.
Between the two technicians Your Local ABC spoke with, 4 people here in Tri-Cities contacted them because their computers were hit with the virus.
The main take away here, do not open up a file that you don't recognize.