Computer users warned about ‘Crypto Locker’

Polk County Itemizer-Observer
By Emily Mentzer

INDEPENDENCE — Pete Hume said this is the first time in 10 years he has seen anything like Crypto Locker, malware that has been circulating for about seven weeks.

The owner of Karmic Computers spoke to members of the Independence Business Association at their monthly meeting on Nov. 14 at Hops & Barrel House.

The group running Crypto Locker encrypts files on a hard drive, can jump networks, infecting those as well, and then demands a ransom of between $300 and $700 for the key to decrypt those files.

“I’m still reeling from this thing,” Hume said. He also is concerned about copy cats.

Hume said the key to avoiding this particular malware is to back things up regularly and properly, on an outside hard drive.

Scot Morse, computer science teacher at Western Oregon University, said not to click on links that can’t be confirmed.

“Most people’s computers don’t get infected from vulnerability,” he said. “It happens from something they’ve done and clicked on something. An email looked legitimate, looked normal, so you clicked on something and it really wasn’t.”

One of the primary ways this malware spreads is through email attachments, Hume said.

Because it has the ability to jump networks, it can be particularly damaging for businesses with the often multiple networks used, Hume said.

To attempt to help businesses and community members stay ahead of this ransomware — the term given to virus-like programs that hold files or information for ransom — Hume will hold a series of free drop-in clinics to identify if a computer has a virus and teach good back-up practices. Clinics will be held from 3 to 6 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and are space available.

For more information or to sign up for a workshop: 503-837-0310. To report an internet scam: File a complaint at

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