If you get an email that appears to be from Hewlett Packard or Xerox, don't open the attachment.
It is likely the latest form of a home computer virus, according to the Ocean County Prosecutor's Office.
The latest virus is "a revised Ransomware known as “Cryptolocker” which is being proliferated across the internet, according to a statement from the prosecutor's office.
"Previous Ransomware infections were
more of a hassle in locking the computer when the malware was executed,
however, Cryptolocker will encrypt and delete files on the user’s computers," the statement says.
"The Cryptolocker nightmare begins as an email from what appears to be a reputable source such as Hewlett Packard or Xerox with an attachment," the statement explains. "The email is actually spoofed and once the attachment is opened it will infect the user’s computer with the malware (see attached photo).
"Although there have been reports that the users who have paid have had their files unencrypted, most users will not receive such treatment and the files are forever lost. Unfortunately the encrypted lost files can then only be restored from a backup source if available.
"Detectives from the Ocean County High Tech Crime Unit stress that since Cyber Crook’s emails are originating from spoofed email accounts, home computer owners can only protect themselves by checking the senders of the e-mails and verifying the legitimacy of the sender.
"Other simple ways to ward off these attacks are to not to visit untrusted websites or follow links provided by unknown or untrusted sources; be cautious when clicking on links in emails coming from trusted sources; insure anti-virus is installed on your home computer."
For more information, contact the county High Tech Crime Unit at 732-929-2027.