Mich. AG warns of scam that encrypts computer files

By Bryan Cohen | Apr 17, 2014


LANSING, Mich. (Legal Newsline) - Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette warned consumers on Monday about ransomware scams that can lock or encrypt computer files.

Ransomware viruses can lock files on shared networks, personal computers, external hard drives and USB drives. Once the files are downloaded, the criminals behind the scams demand a ransom be paid or the files will be forever encrypted and lost to the victim.

"Every day cyber criminals are devising new ways to scam consumers," Schuette said. "I urge Michigan residents to be wary of emails from unrecognized sources and encourage consumers to use our helpful suggestions to protect themselves and their personal information from cyber scams."

While victims are told the files will be unlocked if they pay, some victims reported losing their files even after paying the ransom.

Two ransomware programs include CryptoDefense and CryptoLocker. CryptoDefense spreads through fake flash pop-ups that tell the user to view a video or through emails with zip file attachments. CryptoLocker can infect computers through fraudulent email attachments.

Schuette said to think twice before paying the ransom.

"As more people pay the ransom, the incentives for criminals to keep spreading this malicious program increases," Schuette said. "Second, there is no guarantee that once you pay, the criminals behind ransomware will actually decrypt your files. If you routinely backup your files, the amount of files you lose should be minimal."

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