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Beware of Cryptolocker – It’ll Eat Your Files and Cost You Plenty

The newest cyberscam surfacing in Ocean County and elsewhere deludes computer users that a virus can be deactivated remotely. Of course, there is a price to pay…and pay…and pay.

Flickr User Acloudman

Information from the office of Ocean County Prosecutor Joseph D. Coronato today describes Cryptolocker, a new spin on an insidious home cyber-invasion pattern that’s hitting the PC-illiterate and unaware.

It starts as an e-mail from what appears to be a reputable company such as Xerox or Hewlett Packard, say authorities, with instructions to open an attachment. That’s where the trouble begins.

Unlike now-familiar malwares that simply paralyze a computer, Cryptolocker also deletes and encrypts files. They usually can’t be reclaimed unless a backup file exists.

Also, previous scams led victims to phone interactions with cybercriminals aimed at unlocking it  – invariably resulting in the disclosure of credit card numbers and other senstive data to “complete the transaction,” and actually the ruse to max out the cards and possibly enter bank accounts.

Cryptolocker demands payment in dollars or euros, with an online link to start the process. Once the payment is completed, scammers have the information they need to clean your finances, not your computer.

Detectives from the Ocean County High Tech Crime Unit say that cybercrooks use spoofed e-mail accounts. Home computer users can check and verfiy senders, a measure of protection, but no guarantee.

Investigators recommend staying away from untrusted web pages and links, using discretion in opening links and attachments, and keeping anti-virus software updated.

There’s more information at the county High Tech Crime Unit in Toms River, 732-929-2027, or the Ocean County Prosecutor’s web page.

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