Hackers target Swansea police for ransom - News, Weather and Classifieds for Southern New England

Hackers target Swansea police for ransom

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PC Troubleshooters in Warwick has been around for nearly 20 years.

The company helps with the simplest of information technology problems to more advanced issues like removing malware.

Recently, CryptoLocker has been one of the most vexing.

"CryptoLocker has been infecting a wide variety of computers," said Eric Shorr of PC Troubleshooters.

Shorr said she's already at least one client targeted.

"We restored (the system) from backup so we didn't have to pay the ransom. We cleaned out the files," he said.

Shorr said he's not shocked the Swansea Police Department was another target.

The malware is designed to infiltrate your computer through an email impersonating a message from shipping companies like FedEx, UPS and the U.S. Postal Service.

When someone clicks on the attachment, the malware encrypts your files and a ransom note asks for payment in Bitcoins.

After contacting the FBI, Swansea police decided to pay the ransom.

But you can't just go to an ATM or bank. Instead you have to set up a Bitcoin account, an online currency that's difficult to trace.

Swansea police say they got all of their files back after paying the ransom.

"First of all, it's not easy to get started with Bitcoin. It can be a problem just to get Bitcoins to pay the ransom, which I don't recommend you actually do," Shorr said.

Shorr suggested users take action as soon as they realize they get a fake email.

"If you do click on it, turn it off. That will stop the spread of the malware on your computer. And then bring it to an IT services company to help you clean it up," he said.

"Can you really trust someone who wrote a document to encrypt all of your documents, all of your data, everything, and not expect them to come back for more? So it's much too big a risk to even attempt to pay them."

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