Warning: Crypto Locker Computer Virus Going Around

A nasty virus called crypto locker is going around, and it can cripple your computer.

The virus, also known as ransomware, has caused a lot of damage - including our computers here at ABC 13 Wednesday.

Unlike a standard malware virus, this one holds your computer hostage until you pay up.

It hit our sister station, ABC 33-40 in Birmingham, Alabama. The station's Director of Engineering says they received specific instructions to pay up.

"You buy this $300 Green Dot MoneyPak, you cannot use a credit card for it, it had to be cash or debit card. Once they claim the funds, they unlock your files. If those files had been lost, it could've affected 10 years' worth of work by several departments," said Ron Thomas.

The virus is so new, so elusive, that many times, if the files are valuable, the only way to reclaim them is to pay.

"It will disguise itself as JPEG images, as PDF files, as Microsoft Office files," said Troy Viers.

Viers, an IT specialist for WSET, has been working to find a code to crack the crypto locker.

The biggest defense he says is also the easiest to apply.

"If you get an email from somebody you do not know, especially if it's got attachments, don't open anything with it, just delete the email."

This can attack your personal PC too. So be very mindful of what you download and the emails you open.

If you don't know who is sending that email or if the subject is foreign to you, simply click delete.

We'll have more with experts on how they're training to beat this virus on 13 News at 11.