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Nasty new virus spreading now: See how to beat it

Nasty new virus spreading now: See how to beat it
photo courtesy of SHUTTERSTOCK

There's a nasty new virus that's spreading now that's designed to scrambling victims' files and hold their computers hostage for a hefty payment. I've written about so-called ransomware before, but the designers of this scam seem to have a sense of humor. Their dangerous malware pays homage to the super popular television show "Breaking Bad" at the same. If the PolloCrypt malware gets on your computer, hackers could hold your precious data hostage for hundreds of dollars or more.

If your computer is infected, you'll see a screen telling you your data is encrypted and you have to pay the hackers using Bitcoin to get your files decrypted. The screen also includes the logo of the fictitious Los Pollos Hermanos restaurant from the "Breaking Bad" television series.

A version of the malware used against computer owners in Australia asked for $450 AUD, or about $354. But here's where it gets interesting. The malware warns that if victims didn't pay up in time, then the cost to decrypt files jumped to $1,000 AUD, or about $787.

Recovering your data after a cryptoransomware attack is difficult. Even paying up is no guarantee, because you can't be sure that the criminals on the other end will keep up their end of the bargain. The best way to protect your data is to be proactive and take steps to make sure you don't fall victim to PolloCrypt in the first place.

You can protect yourself by making sure your anti-virus software is active and updated with the latest threat library. Sophos is reporting that its products can already block PolloCrypt attacks. You should also make sure you install updates and patches for your operating system and programs to make sure your computer isn't vulnerable because of security flaws.

It's also important to keep your eyes open for strange emails coming in through your inbox. Oftentimes, hackers can infect your computer by attaching malicious files to emails. Remember, never open email attachments if you can't verify the source.

Lastly, make sure you back up your computer on a regular basis. If your computer is infected, you can rest easy knowing you have a recent backup of all of your files and folders. It's the easiest way to protect your important files from computer crashes, natural disasters, thieves and killer viruses.

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