AKRON– As we head into the holiday shopping season, experts are sending out a warning about phishing scams.
They say it can be difficult to distinguish between emails from retailers like Amazon, Best Buy, and Walmart, and the actual scams. Experts say promises of free shipping, coupons, and other bait could lure people into clicking a link to get the code or coupon and that will initiate the installation of a virus or malware.
Akron officials say there’s an unusually nasty virus called “CryptoLocker” hitting this year. It can encrypt your documents, pictures, music, and even the entire hard drive of your computer.
In a press release, Akron’s Chief Information Officer Rick Schmahl said, “This is where the thieves get their money. By paying with various types of Internet funds, such as Bitcoin, they profit. Though cases exist of payments returning a valid password to decrypt, don’t count on it. You’re dealing with criminals. Their profit margin goes down if they spend time tracking and generating passwords, and good luck getting technical support if the password doesn’t work! Also, as various agencies shut down the operators of the ransomware, they’re inadvertently severing your ability to contact the crooks that might supply a password that works.”
The Akron CIO said the best advice is have an anti-virus program and continuously update it, keep your operating system current, back up your hard drive, and scrutinize your e-mail.