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Local police warn about computer virus

Authorities are warning local citizens to be aware of a new computer virus that was first detected last month in Europe and has now been confirmed in Escambia County.

The first local case of the CryptoLocker Ransomware computer virus was reported to authorities on Tuesday. A local business was hit by the virus after an employee opened what she thought was a legitimate file.

The attachment containing  the virus is an attached .ZIP file. The file itself may have many different names; some of the commonly used names used are, voice message, UPS tracking information, and Resume. In  each case, opening this .ZIP file will activate the virus and lock users our of their own files.

The virus, normally spread by email, will seek out a contact list and email it self to others.

According to a press release from the Pensacola Police Department, this virus is  extremely destructive because it securely encrypts all of the computer users personal files. Once these files are encrypted they can only be opened  with the use of a private key. The  virus program gives the computer user information on how to purchase the private key over the internet by wiring money to an account. The amount of  money required varies between $100 and $300.

This virus is easily detected by commercially available virus protection software. The best way to protect data from this virus is to not open attachments from suspicious email addresses. Keep  important data backed up to a DVD or external hard drive. Once this virus infects a computer  the files that get encrypted cannot be recovered without the private key. Computers users are advised to keep their virus definitions updated.

Infections should be reported to  www.ic3.gov.

Source: Media partner Northescambia.com