RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - We've warned you about it before, and the FBI says a cyber scheme called Ransomware continues to spread. The agency says it is infecting computers around the world. If you use a computer, the FBI says be on alert.
Cyber crooks are infecting thousands of devices with messages that say your computer files have been encrypted. Computer expert Kevin Boynton with The Computer Doctor of Richmond says it usually starts when the victim clicks on a malicious link or attachment in an email. To unlock your machine, you're forced to pay hundreds, sometimes thousands of dollars.
"People are paying, because they are desperate and they need their data back," he says.
Boynton says the reason the deception is a constant problem is because people continue to fall for it. Experts don't advise that you pay the ransom and say if you do, there is no guarantee that your files will be released.
"When you pay, you are definitely sponsoring Cyber Terrorism and in many cases, these real cyber terrorism fundings have been linked to real terrorism," Boynton explains.
Your best protection is never clicking on links or opening up attachments in emails that you were not expecting. Also, make sure your anti-virus is updated and experts say you may want to have a good Pop-Up Blocker. Keep in mind if you computer is infected, you data is probably gone for good.
"Current statistics say it will take a lab of supercomputers over 400 years to break the encryption," Boynton says.
Experts say your saving grace is making sure your files are backed up in multiple locations. Boynton says another tip when it comes to your email: always be skeptical.
"Even if you get an email from somebody you know it is coming from, but if you weren't expecting any kind of attachment, especially from that person or a random link from that person, ask them," he explains.
If you are computer is infected, disconnect from the Internet and contact a trusted professional. You can also file a complaint with the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center at IC3.gov.
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