“RANSOMWARE” MAKING ROUNDS OF OC ONCE AGAIN NEWEST STRAIN IMPOSSIBLE TO REVERSE
Ocean County Prosecutor High Tech Crime Unit today warned county residents of malicious “Ransomware” computer programs circulating the county designed to hold your computer files hostage until a ransom is paid to unscrupulous cyber criminals.
Known as “Ransomware”, this scam has been reported in over twenty (20) countries in Europe and has been circulating regularly in the United States infecting computers. The malicious software can be installed from a website the user has visited, from an email, instant message or a message on a social network which the user receives. When Ransomware infects your computer, it will cause the computer to lock up. At times, Ransomware will create a pop up window or a webpage warning which advises the user that they have been engaged in some type of illegal activity on the internet. The computer system is then rendered unusable until the Ransomware is removed. The message from the cyber-criminal advises the user that once the fine is paid the machine will be unlocked or the user will be sent a code to unlock the machine.
There is no known “CURE” or way to reverse the latest variant of “Ransomware” once your computer is infected. Unless you have a back-up of the files on a secondary storage device you will not be able to recover the files. Although anti-virus companies are working to prevent this type of activity, unfortunately computer criminals are always updating their tactics and inventing ways to circumvent the computer industry’s anti-virus programs. Consumers can avoid being a victim of Ransomware by keeping all security software on the computer up to date, keep your firewall turned on, do not open spam email messages or links to suspicious websites and most importantly by backing up all important files to a secondary storage device.
The Ocean County Prosecutor advises citizens that they should not send any money in response to this type of activity. Any questions about Ransomware can be reported to the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office, High Tech Crimes Unit at 732-929-2027. For further tips on how to avoid computer scams call the Ocean County Department of Consumer Affairs at 732-929-2105.
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