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New computer virus holds files for ransom

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A new computer virus called CryptoLocker could hold your computer files hostage. The virus has already infected computers nationwide including at least one company in Central Texas.

CryptoLocker, also known as Ransomware, infected Elm Mott Water Supply Friday and it took Geek Squad hours to fix. An employee told The Texas Report they don't believe any personal information was compromised and it won't affect their business.

One wrong click and everything on your computer could be gone. So computer experts say be on the lookout for this new malicious malware.

Click-A-Nerd Computer Technician Shawn Richeson says once your PC is infected you won't be able to access the corrupted files. 

"It uses a key and it changes the file contents to something that's unusable and unopenable on your computer," says Richeson.

The virus is disguised as emails that appear to be from legitimate businesses like UPS, FedEx, or even the FBI or Homeland Security. As soon as you click on it it's downloaded and starts locking you out of your own documents and pictures.

A window pops up with a countdown clock and tells you only have so much time to pay up if you ever want to recover your files. The ransom is usually set at $100- $300.

"After paying the author, they provide a key to unlock the files that the author has encrypted," says Richeson.

The Texas Report put up a post on our Facebook page asking if anyone else in our area has been infected by the computer virus and many of our viewers had. Some were able to get rid of it and others and others weren't too lucky.

If you don't pay, or the time expires, all those corrupted files will be deleted. Once you get the message with the countdown, there's only one thing you can do.

"The best that we've come up with to prevent further damage is to once you confirm that you're infected with it the only smart move is to just shut the computer off completely," says Richeson.

After shutting down, get it to a repair shop as soon as you can to stop the clock and prevent further damage.

Computer experts say you can get rid of the virus and even restore your computer back to the last backup point but all those corrupted files will be destroyed unless you pay for the key to unlock them.

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