RICHLAND, Wash. - NBC Right Now with a warning about a virus that can take your computer hostage and even worse, the hackers demand a ransom.
The virus is typically disguised as a legitimate email that looks like it's a customer support message from companies like FedEx or UPS with an attachment. When you open that file a message comes up that tells you all of your computer files are encrypted. Then it gives you a timeframe, anywhere from a few hours to a few days, to pay hundreds of dollars in ransom money to unlock the files.
It's easy to get and almost impossible to get rid of.
"Unfortunately for us and many other computer shops out there, our hands are tied. There's nothing we can really do. wish we could but without the other half of the encryption key, the customer's out of luck, unfortunately," said Joel Cline of Cline Computers.
The virus is believed to have been created overseas in September and it's been infecting computers all over the country since then. Just recently, several people in the Tri-Cities have reportedly been hit by it.
The best advice? Back up your computer and don't open attachments that you're not sure of.