'CryptoLocker' computer virus demands ransom for files - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

'CryptoLocker' computer virus demands ransom for files

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MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) -

It's targeting businesses and making it impossible to access  files -- it's called CryptoLocker.

CryptoLocker is a computer virus that quietly installs and encrypts files, which makes it harder to access them, but there's a catch -- in order for you to access these files you must pay up or lose it forever.

Computer Expert Jamie Mellis says the instructions are specific. A message says there's a private key on a secret server on the internet that will allow you to restore your files as long as you pay up by the deadline with an untraceable credit card.

"It's targeting businesses. It also goes after things like music files and pictures as well," Mellis said.

If those files are infected by the virus it can be devastating especially if you don't have them saved anywhere else.

Mellis said he encounters people on a daily basis with absolutely no backups and unfortunately in many cases there's nothing he can do to recover the files.

The CryptoLocker virus is spreading through phony FedEx and UPS tracking notifications and other emails pretending to come from legitimate businesses.

Those who have paid the ransom, typically $300, report their files are decrypted within a few hours. Those who didn't, have had to wipe their hard drives clean and restore them before they were usable again.

Copyright 2013 WSFA 12 News. All Rights Reserved.

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