Police warn of cyber attack

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A senior police detective is urging people to step up their computer security with the spread of a new malicious ransom demand.

Detective Chief Inspector Paul Williamson, of Mercia Police, warns of a 'ransomware' attack called 'CryptoLocker' that targets personal computer users using a Windows operating system.

The malicious software can encrypt computer files that can only then be 'unlocked' with a payment of several hundred pounds.

DCI Williamson says a growing number of victims have been hit by the scam.

The malicious 'CryptoLocker' software is not a virus but can be activated by clicking on the programme, often contained in an email attachment.

After blocking all data on a computer, a message flashes up on screen saying your personal files have been encrypted with a deadline to pay around £200 to get them released.

DCI Williamson said: "It's ill-advised to pay this ransom because there is no guarantee they'll send you the key and if they do, they know you are susceptible to blackmail and they may strike again."

Computer users are asked to take precautions against the software such as backing up files on an external hard drive or on an Internet 'cloud' system; using a spam and virus-filtered email service; avoiding suspicious websites and site adverts and never opening Twitter links or email attachments from people you don't know or trust.

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