LANSING - Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette today warned consumers of Ransomware scams that can encrypt or lock files on a computer.
"Every day cyber criminals are devising new ways to scam consumers," said Schuette. "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."
Ransomware viruses lock files on personal computers and also files on shared networks, USB drives, and external hard drives. Once downloaded, the criminals behind these scams demand a "ransom" be paid or the computer's files will remain encrypted and be lost to the victim. Victims are told that if they pay, their files will be unlocked but some victims reported losing their files even after they paid the ransom. Two popular Ransomware programs include CryptoLocker and CryptoDefense. CryptoLocker typically infects victims' computers through fraudulent email attachments. CryptoDefense generally spreads through fake flash pop-ups prompting the user to view a video or via emails with zip file attachments.
Schuette offers the following tips for consumers to protect themselves against Ransomware:
Regularly backup your computer's files. Backing up files in an offline location not connected to the internet can minimize the number of files you lose in the event your computer is encrypted by Ransomware.
Be wary of unfamiliar email attachments. Do not click on any attachments from a source you do not recognize.
Make sure your software is up-to-date. Regularly check your anti-virus and operating system software to make sure you have the latest patches and updates.
To access the full Attorney General Consumer Alert, "Computer Ransomware - Holding Your Files Hostage," visit http://www.michigan.gov/ag/0,4534,7-164-17337_20942-324685--,00.html.
For additional information on CryptoLocker Ransomware infections, please visit https://www.us-cert.gov/ncas/alerts/TA13-309A. You can file a complaint with the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center at: http://www.ic3.gov/default.aspx. For information on filing a complaint with the Department of Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division, please visit http://www.michigan.gov/ag/0,4534,7-164-17331-42077--,00.html.
For general consumer questions or complaints, you may reach the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division at:
Consumer Protection Division
P.O. Box 30213
Lansing, MI 48909
Toll free: 877-765-8388
www.michigan.gov/ag (online complaint form)