• STV
  • MySTV

Cyber hackers target Scots with computer virus then ask for 'ransom'

The 'ransomware' disables the computer completely then tells user to pay a substantial sum to use their device again.

Computer Files: Hundreds of files were illegally accessed and passed on.
© STV

Computer hackers are targeting Scots with a malicious computer virus then asking for "ransom" money to fix the problem.

Police are warning computer users across Scotland to ensure their devices have the latest security software installed.

The alert follows an increase in malicious attacks which locks out users from the data on their computers.

The "ransomware" attack encrypts the data and disables the computer completely.

It then tells the computer user they have to pay a substantial sum, or "ransom", to be able to use their computer device again.

However, even if they do, there is no guarantee this will work, and they can also become vulnerable to repeat attacks.

Every computer user is vulnerable to the malware, and Scotland has been targeted because of the high number of small to medium sized businesses.

These are vulnerable to attack because they often do not have the IT resources of larger companies.

Computers can be attacked in a number of ways, such as by opening a malicious attachment hidden in an an email or clicking on a link in a social media message.

Devices can also be infected by visiting a website which has been corrupted, inserting a corrupted USB device, such as a mobile phone, memory stick, external hard drive of a music player.

Detective chief inspector Willie Cravens, operational lead for Police Scotland’s cybercrime unit, said: "This is a sophisticated attack which, in most cases, virtually destroys a computer and could cost the victim hundreds of pounds to replace.

"There is no guarantee they will be able to get back into their machine, and even if they do, would have to completely wipe the hard disk and start from scratch.

"Paying the "ransom" – often several hundred pounds – to "unlock" the computer does not solve the problem because there is no guarantee the fraudsters will do this, and it also makes the victim vulnerable to repeat attacks.

"This can be extremely annoying and expensive for members of the public, who may have lost irreplaceable family photographs and important documents, but devastating for a small business, such as a farm, whose business could be wiped out by losing access to all of their files, such as accounts and crucial business documentation."

In order to prevent people becoming victims, Police Scotland is advising every computer user to ensure they are running the latest versions of security software.

People are also being asked to have their data backed up regularly to cloud services or devices not connected to their computer.

DCI Cravens added: "There is a lot of help available online for both individuals and businesses and useful advice for everyone can be found at: https://www.getsafeonline.org/protecting-your-computer/ransomware/

"For businesses, Cyber Essentials is a new Government-backed and industry supported scheme to guide businesses in protecting themselves against cyber threats., and further information can be found by clicking on http://www.cyberstreetwise.com/cyberessentials/?&nginxId=a3fbc631-cfe9-4f59-cf20-8bffdeffb515."

One account. All of STV.

This field is required. That doesn't look like a valid e-mail format, please check. That e-mail's already in our system. Please try again.
ShowHide
Forgot password?
This field is required. At least 6 characters please. Did you enter your details correctly?
If you've forgotten your details then use the 'Forgot password?' link.
Need to reset your password?

We'll send a link to reset your password to

We've sent you details on how to reset your password

Please check your email and follow the instructions.

Forgotten your email address?

Have you forgotten the email address that you previously joined with? Don't worry, by emailing enquiries@stv.tv we can help.

One account. All of STV.

This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
At least 6 characters please
ShowHide
This field is required. At least 6 characters please.
You have to be 16 or over to join
This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid date
Type your full postcode and select your address This field is required. It doesn't look like you've entered a valid postcode. Can't find your address? Confirm the details you've given us are correct by clicking here

By continuing you agree to our Terms of Use, including our Privacy Policy and Cookie Policy. Any issues contact us.

Upload Profile Picture

Please make sure your image is under 2mb in size and a valid JPG, PNG or GIF.

Are you sure?

Unfortunately, you'll be unable to access our premium content. We’ll be sorry to see you go, but if you change your mind you can rejoin us at any time.

Please verify your STV account

Please verify your STV account using the email we sent you. If you have lost the email, we can send you another one, just click the button below.

Thanks

We've sent you a new verification email.
Please check your email and follow the instructions to verify your account.

Welcome to STV
Thanks for joining us.

Oops!

Sorry, you must be at least 12 years old to place a vote for your Real Hero.

Please review our Voting Terms of Use for more information.

Oops!

Sorry! It seems that you are using a browser that is incompatible with our voting service.

To register your vote please copy the below URL in to your regular mobile browser. We recommend Google Chrome, or Safari.

http://shows.stv.tv/real-heroes/voting

Oops!

Sorry, you seem to have already voted in this category.

Thanks for voting

Now share your vote with friends on your social network

Share on twitter Share on facebook

Cast your vote

Please register or sign in to continue.

Cast your vote

This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid date

Cast your vote

Please fill out this form to cast your vote. As you are under 16 years old you will not create an STV account. Why do we need these details?

This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. That doesn't look like a valid e-mail format, please check.
Location This field is required.
Parental Consent This field is required.

That's you. All that's left is to click the 'Submit Vote' button below. By doing so, you confirm that you and your parent or guardian have read and accept our Voting Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Cookie policy, and that the details you have entered are correct. We'll look after them as carefully as if they were our own.