PC ‘hijack’ threat a rude awakening

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A MT MARTHA woman was lucky not to be scammed last week when she received an email from what looked to be her power provider.

Sandra-Lyal Dennis, 72, said the email, purporting to be from AGL and with her correct name and account number, asked if she preferred to pay her quarterly power bills by the month.

If she did, the email requested that she move her cursor to an area on the screen where she could download pictures – but it was a trap. The download would have exposed her PC to a ransomware attack.

“Fortunately, I didn’t download the pictures,” Ms Dennis said.

“I rang AGL and they said it didn’t sound right. They warned me that it was a virus that would hijack my PC and I would have to send the [scammers] money to unlock it.

“I rang my daughter and she warned me that there were scams going around and to be very careful.”

The real AGL sent Ms Dennis a letter warning of a surge in attacks through the Cryptolocker virus and its different strains. The letter included an image of a message that pops up after the system is compromised: “Warning: We have encrypted your files with the Cryptolocker virus”, and demanding a fee be paid to unlock them.

“It was awful,” Ms Dennis said. “I would like to know how they got my correct name and account number.

“The email looked so legitimate.”

First published in the Mornington News – 7 June 2016

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