Internet Explorer is being implicated in a file hostage scam which was first reported here in May. In the scam, dubbed back then an “Internet infection”, the bad guys would somehow lock up your files by encrypting them, then leave a digital ransom note on your computer, demanding $200 if you ever wanted to see your data again.
At the time, a spokesperson for Symantec said that it was like “someone coming into your home, putting your valuables in a safe and not telling you the combination.”
According to a report in Vnunet today, the attack is not only still around, but it especially hits those who surf the web with improperly patched versions of Internet Explorer. If someone using such an improperly patched Internet Explorer hits a site with the malware responsible for the hostage situation, the site downloads a Trojan onto their hard drive, which in turn locks their files and produces the “ransom note”.
There are three things which you can do to protect yourself from this scam. First, if you are using Internet Explorer, be sure that it is fully patched and up-to-date. Second, make sure that you back up your data on a regular basis, to a different hard drive or storage device. And third, of course, make sure that your anti-virus software is up-to-date.
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