The 'Gameover Zeus' virus has been temporarily disabled after the police launched attacks on the servers of the criminals behind the 'malware'.
But experts warn that computer users have only two weeks to protect their computer. Find out everything you need to do here.
Everything You Need To Know About The GameOver Zeus Computer Virus:
How do you get the Gameover Zeus computer virus?
The virus installs itself on your computer when you click on a link from an unsolicited website or on a website. It will then send emails to other people from your computer - without your knowledge - allowing it to spread rapidly across the internet.
What can the virus do?
The virus will track everything you do on your computer, waiting for an opportunity to steal personal details, such as online banking information and passwords. These will then be sent back to the criminal network, who could use this information to gain access to your bank account.
If the software does not get enough information, it can lock your computer and hold it to ransom, demanding one Bitcoin - around £300 - to unlock it. If you don't pay, they can delete everything on your computer, including all photos and music.
How do I know if I have the virus?
The National Crime Agency has warned that the computers of more than 15,000 people in the UK are already infected with the virus. Most of these will have been contacted by their internet service provider.
How do I protect my computer from the Gameover Zeus computer virus?
You will need to do two things to protect yourself. Firstly, install some anti-virus software, such as McAfee or Norton. The website - getsafeonline.org - lists eight free software packages you can use (although this site has crashed throughout the morning).
See LBC's list of anti-virus programmes to protect yourself
Secondly, ensure you have updated your operating system to the latest version. On a PC, you can do this by visiting the Microsoft website.
To ensure your PC is set up for automatic updates, click on the Control Panel, then:
Depending on which Control Panel view you use, Classic or Category, do one of the following:
- Click System, and then click the Automatic Updates tab.
- Click Performance and Maintenance, click System, and then click the Automatic Updates tab.
Click the option that you want. Make sure Automatic Updates is not turned off.
How long have I got to protect myself?
Police have taken down the criminal network's servers, temporarily disabling the virus. They estimate it will take them around two weeks to build it back up again.
Should I change my passwords?
The National Crime Agency has advised changing passwords, as original passwords may have been compromised during the infection. It is also worth checking bank and credit card statements for any irregularities.
Source - LBC & NCA
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