Police are warning residents about a computer virus that is holding user files hostage.
The virus, commonly called “ransomware,” has been attacking local businesses in recent months. Police said this is not a new type of attack but has become more prevalent globally over the past few years.
The virus is usually installed unknowingly by the user when they may visit a compromised website or open a link or attachment from an unknown email address.
The virus encrypts files on the user’s computer system until the user pays a fee.
In attacks that have recently been reported to police, the attackers have been requesting bitcoins but other methods such an iTunes cards or Amazon gift cards are also common.
Police said they do no support paying the ransoms as there is no guarantee the attackers will provide any means to unlock the infected computer system. There is also no guarantee that the infected computer system or files will not be corrupted or damaged after they have been decrypted.
The ransoms can range from hundreds to hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The Regina Police Service strongly advised the local business community and general public to be proactive in maintaining a high level of cyber security. Police are reminding people to regularly backup their computer system and update malware and anti-virus software.