TECH

'Two Weeks' To Protect Against Computer Virus That Is 'Literally Extorting People'

02/06/2014 18:09 BST | Updated 03/06/2014 08:59 BST

UK residents will have 'two weeks' to protect themselves against a 'powerful computer attack' that ransoms people's data, according to the National Crime Agency.

The malicious software is called Gameover Zeus and consists of a Trojan which searches your computer for personal information such as passwords and financial data.

Once it has found the necessary information the second piece of software then completely locks it down, demanding a ransom for it to be unlocked.

The virus actually already affects around 15,000 computers in the UK but the NCA, in partnership with the FBI has managed to create a two week window during which users can protect themselves by running virus checkers and disconnecting infected computers.

So just how serious is this? The Huffington Post spoke to Kaspersky's Senior Expert David Emm who has explained that whilst this is obviously a very serious threat, the two week window is actually result in a positive outcome for users.

"In our virus labs see around 300,000 unique samples every day, if you take Zeus, there are literally hundreds of thousands of variants, one of the reasons is because if they’ve taken control of my computer they want to keep control as long as possible."

"This doesn’t happen that often, this is not unprecedented, but it’s also not that common. When it does happen though it's a) good because it gives them an insight and b) it gives people the opportunity to clean their computers."

How can you protect yourself? Emm's solution is fantastically simple but effective.

"This is really important, in terms of lancerware, if you have a backup, even if you’re just dropping and dragging your files onto a USB then you can stay safe and you don’t need to pay the ransom. If you are holding your files on cloud based storage as well then clearly they won’t have access."