Researchers at Trend Micro are alerting computer users to a scary new type of ransomware called PETYA Crypto-ransomware.

Ransomware is a form of malware that locks the files on your PC and demands payment to unlock those files. Of course, you can’t be sure if the crooks who locked your files will actually unlock them, even if you pay the ransom.

They’ve recently been targeting hospitals and managed to actually shut a couple down by encrypting patient medical records until the hospitals forked over a ransom. Who knows how much private information these crooks made off with.

petya-ransomware

This new ransomware doesn’t settle for just encrypting your files. It locks your hard drive and prevents your system from booting up at all.

Instead of seeing Windows, you’ll see a screen with a skull and crossbones. This malware overwrites the master boot record and locks users out.

Most ransomware disguises itself in e-mails or by directing you to malicious websites. PETYA comes from a cloud storage site. Crooks send what looks like a legitimate job application or other innocent-looking e-mail with a link to Dropbox.

petya-ransomware-instructions

According to Trend Micro, the Dropbox folder contains a self-extracting file and a photo. The Trojan virus in the self-extracting file takes out your Antivirus and then downloads an executable file.

The user will boot up to a screen demanding payment. This particular bit of malware also takes out your ability to start the PC in safe mode.  You’ll receive a list of instructions asking for around $400 in ransom.

Oh, and if you don’t pay up right away, the price continues to rise.  Trend Micro contacted Dropbox, and they removed that particular file. But as you know, crooks and scammers are quick on their feet and no doubt have many other such files up in the cloud and ready to go.

Your best defense is a good offense. So make sure to have up-to-date virus and malware protection in place at all time.

Be extremely cautious about clicking on links in e-mails.  And, of course, always have your important files backed up.

~ Cynthia