Being a frequent user of email, I’m sure you’re very familiar with junk or spam email. Those annoying little emails which claim to be genuine and look like the real thing but instead will only cause havoc on your computer if opened.

Well this one I’m about to tell you is NOT TO BE IGNORED. This particular spam email is on the increase and appears to come from a bank but is really sent from fraudsters trying to get their hands on your hard earned money. MY JAW JUST DROPPED WHEN I FIRST HEARD OF THIS.

These emails carry malicious files that target Windows PC’s. Doesn’t affect Mac’s to date, but this could change in the future.

If you open the attachment from one of these emails, the malicious file goes to work and encrypts all your files (converts your data into an unreadable format) i.e. your documents, photos, music and any other data it can find.

As I mentioned above, all your stuff will be inaccessible as it will all look like gobbledegook. It doesn’t delete any of the information but won’t be of any use to you.

It’ll show a countdown timer with a demand for payment on your screen in exchange for the decryption key (to make it readable again). This ransom can be anything from £300 upwards.

IS THIS LEGAL? Of course not, but unfortunately it’s the only way to get your information back by making it readable again or if you have a backup of the data which hasn’t been infected, you can have the computer restored to an earlier time and then have the data restored.

1) Don’t click or download unsolicited email attachments.

2) Keep your Antivirus software and operating system up to date.

3) Back up all your important files regularly and store them off your internal network.

4) If your computer does get infected, it should be disconnected from the network immediately. Then get some professional help to clean your computer.

5) Antivirus companies offer a fix but they won’t be able to recover the encrypted files.

If you’re a victim of this, report it with Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or online here.