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New Ransomware will lock your PC, Beware of Cryptowall


New Ransomware will lock your PC, demand $700. Thousands of people are turning on their PC these days, only to find their screen locked, and a pop up demands money, a lot of money, to unlock it.

It's no joke, and it is something you need to know about it before it happens to you. Don Daniels turned to a local computer repair firm, hoping they could rescue his laptop from someone trying to extort hundreds of dollars from him. "You feel robbed," he said He was searching travel websites when his PC locked up, a strange message appearing. "I realized that my computer was being held hostage," he said. His laptop had been targeted by something known as "ransomware," and a virus specifically called Cryptolocker or, in its newest incarnation, Cryptowall. "It was saying I need to pay a fee of $700, and if I don't pay it in a certain amount of time that it goes to $1,000," Daniels said.

Computer repair expert John Andrea - of Mobile Technology Solutions - says it's not a hoax. "It encrypts your personal files with bank level security, and there is almost no way to break the encryption," he said. Andrea says it typically comes in through infected e-mails, and if your computer gets it, you need to act fast. "It will also start a timer ticking down," Andrea said. "Usually it gives you 7 days to pay the ransom. If you don't pay it in 7 days, then the amount doubles." The scammers will demand you pay them through untraceable Green Dot Money Cards, or through the online currency Bitcoin, also untraceable.

He told Daniels he could remove the virus, but that it is sometimes impossible to restore the locked files. In that case your options are "forget about it, leave them encrypted, or pay the ransom," he said, adding that many people end up paying. So how can you protect yourself? Don't open suspicious e-mails, be very careful opening email attachments, and back up your files and photos to the cloud or an external hard drive. Daniels, who now has most of his files back, says it was harrowing.

Andrea has one more tip: If this happens to you, shut down your computer immediately, so that the virus cannot encrypt all your files, and call an expert. Don't keep your computer running as you try to see if you can remove it. A layman cannot easily remove it, and every minute your PC runs, more and more files are getting encrypted by the virus. Once they are encrypted, it may be impossible to restore them without paying the ransom.

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