Derbyshire Police are encouraging people to take extra safety steps to protect their personal files from being targeted by computer fraudsters.
The National Fraud Intelligence Bureau has recently received a number of reports relating to malicious software known as Cryptowall.
Cryptowall is a virus that can take over personal files such as images and documents once it has infected a computer. The virus can affect the computer through emails containing links or attachments, which once opened, will download the Cryptowall virus.
Once the malware scam has taken over a computer, a pop-up page will launch asking for a payment to receive an encryption key and for the software to be removed. However the encryption key is rarely given to the victim.
Detective Constable Julie Wheeldon from the East Midlands Fraud and Financial Investigation Unit said: “Malicious software such as Cryptowall, poses a significant threat both because of the damage it can cause and because of the range of ways in which users can become infected.
“Our aim here is to raise awareness of this type of malware in order to prevent people from becoming victims and losing access to all their computer files permanently.
“Thankfully there are simple steps that you can take to prevent yourself from becoming a victim. Firstly, make sure that your internet browser and any plug-ins are up-to-date, ensure that you discard any emails from unknown address without opening them and beware of links contained within websites, such as adverts or video files, which may look untrustworthy.”
Officers are issuing advice and raising awareness of the scam to prevent residents in Derbyshire falling victim to the crime. Advice includes:
Install anti-virus and firewall software for your computer and set these to update automatically;
Set your web browser to the highest level of security to prevent against malware and computer crime;
Try to make regular backups of your files and store them safely;
Ensure that unneeded connections on business networks are closed on the computer system.
For information around frauds and scams visit the dedicated Stamp out Fraud in Derbyshire webpage at www.derbyshire.police.uk/stampoutfraud.
If you think that you have been a victim of this type of fraud call 101, the non-emergency for Derbyshire police. To report a fraud call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or visit www.actionfraud.police.uk.