“Ransomware” could make computer users hostages to cybercriminals

Attorney General George Jepsen today warned state residents that an new computer virus called “ransomware” can result in extortion from cybercriminals.

Here’s the release:

“Once activated, ransomware viruses scan an infected computer’s drives, encrypting various files in its path. Users trying to access their files are locked out unless they pay a ransom through specified forms of payment such as Bitcoins, MoneyPak or untraceable credit cards.  Victims are given a limited time to pay before the encrypted file keys expire, leaving impacted files permanently frozen.   The Federal Bureau of Investigation has estimated that more than $100 million dollars have been lost as a result of ransomware attacks. ‘Cybercrimes are a serious and ongoing concern. It’s critically important that consumers remain vigilant in order to protect themselves from malicious viruses such as ransomware,’ Jepsen said. ‘Consumers should always exercise caution in order to avoid the danger that can be done to users’ files and finances. Never click on a link or open an email (or its attachment) from someone you do not know or trust, and always keep virus protection software up to date. I would urge any Connecticut resident that has had their computer infected to report it immediately to law enforcement, beginning with the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), which can be done online at http://www.ic3.gov/default.aspx.’

If users find that their computer is infected with ransomware, cyber security experts recommend that they immediately disconnect from any network. Software tools do exist that can remove the virus if detected immediately.  The best way to mitigate the risks of losing access to critical computer due to malware is to regularly back the files up on a separate drive.


Computer users who believe they may be infected with malware may visit the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s dedicated ransomware webpage at www.us-cert.gov/gameoverzeus. Among other resources, the webpage includes links to tools from trusted vendors that can detect and remove the ransomware infection.


In 2011, Attorney General Jepsen created a “Privacy Task Force” to combat threats to data security and privacy.   Individuals wishing to report data security concerns can contact the Attorney General’s Privacy Task Force by calling (860) 808-5400 or emailing attorney.general@ct.gov. The Office of Attorney General, upon receiving such reports will try to work as a resource for those affected as well as alert local authorities.”