Crypto virus locks up Northstate computers

REDDING, Calif. - Computer viruses are a common thing. And if you've ever been a victim you know what kind of a headache they can be. Lately many in the Northstate have become victims of crashed documents and locked up keyboards.

But there are some things you can do to avoid them. One of the main viruses out there is called a ransom virus, where hackers hold your computer hostage until you pay the fine they are asking for.

The type of virus that is spreading in our area is called crypto-locker. It encrypts your files so your computer can't read them and keeps them locked up until you agree to pay money for the "key" to unlock them.

According to Apex, a computer support group in Redding more than 65 percent of personal computers are infected with some kind of spyware. Lately their staff have been busy dealing with crypto-locker.

"[The email] looks like a trusted source such as a bank, Ebay, employer, the administrator at their office and there will be a file attached," said George Passidakis, director of sales and marketing for Apex. "If you're a business user it will actually go out on your network, your file server and start encrypting everything there."

And with just a click, files can disappear and an image will appear asking for your credit card number.

"Says congratulations you are now secure all of your files have been encrypted and if you want to unlock them put in your credit card, click this link and we will send you the public key," Passidakis said.

But there are some things you can do make sure you have an anti-virus that automatically updates:

Avoid opening .zip or .exe emails.
If you see an email being sent from someone you know but aren't quite sure what is in it give, that person a call before you open it.

And just to be safe Passidakis said to always prepare for the worst.

"Have good back ups of all your files, important critical files on your system and network and that you're storing out of these off site as well," Passidakis said.

A spam filtering program is recommended since most of the viruses can come through as spam.

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