Warning over computer encryption scam

Businesses need to be aware of the latest scam which infects computers with a virus, is the warning from Shetland Islands Council’s Trading Standards service.

The scam, which mainly targets businesses, appears in the form of an official-looking email purporting to be from an official source such as HMRC, a bank, Companies House or Royal Mail.

It contains a file which when opened proceeds to install “CryptoLocker” software on to Windows computers. The software then encrypts all the files on the infected computer, and demands a ransom – typically around £500 – for the code to unlock the encryption.

There is a countdown to providing the ransom – if you don’t pay in the given time, your encryption code will be destroyed.

Businesses are advised to remind staff not to click or download unsolicited email attachments; to keep anti-virus software up to date and back up important files and keep them off the network.

If a computer becomes infected it should be disconnected from the network and professional advice sought.

If you are a victim, report it to www.actionfraud.police.uk

Shetland Islands Council’s Trading Standards Team Leader, David Marsh, said: “We are aware of businesses in Shetland who have received these emails and opened the attachment and are now counting the cost in IT support and employee time to recover vital data, as well as the distress this has caused them.

“For more information about scams, along with general consumer advice, visit www.shetland.gov.uk/tradingstandards, phone Trading Standards on 01595 744887, or call along the Council’s office on the ground floor of Charlotte House.”


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