Computer virus showing up in Hawaii - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Computer virus showing up in Hawaii

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

Honolulu Police say it started showing up in Hawaii in late October. Since then, at least two dozen small businesses have been victimized by it.

It is Cryptowall, a form of ransomware.

Like so many other computer viruses, Cryptowall is launched into a user's system via email.

"It looks like a normal business email. The emails I've seen have come in saying 'please refer to the attached invoices or attached information for your businesses" said Lt. John McCarthy of HPD.

Once a person clicks on the link or attachment, the virus starts encrypting all the data on the computer, as well as those in the network, unbeknownst to the user.

When someone tries to access that information, all that appears is an indecipherable code. A countdown clock appears on the screen, telling the user he or she has a certain amount of time to pay a ransom - $500 and up – in Bitcoin.

"Bitcoin is a form of virtual currency which is virtually untraceable, both at the purchase of the Bitcoin and the transaction" said McCarthy.

Many people have paid the ransom already. "So far there's been over half a billion dollars stolen this year" said Dennis Padlock of Pacific Computer Corporation.

He implores that the best defense against Cryptowall and other viruses is prevention. Padlock says to never open suspicious or unfamiliar emails, and never click on links or attachments accordingly.

Additionally, he says to routinely backup your system. Cryptowall has attacked small businesses internationally, but so far law enforcement officials have yet to trace its origin.

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