"The virus doesn't go away, it's installed to the computer and it has to be removed."
-Jason Denovich, owner New Look Computer and Data
A new virus is holding computers hostage.
It's becoming increasingly common, and can hit anyone who goes online. There are several variations, and all of them could cause a lot of damage.
Robert Blackwell is an IT specialist with 20 years of experience, but even he couldn't avoid getting the new destructive virus.
"It totally locked the computer up, could not do anything," Blackwell said. "Control, alt, delete, which would normally bring up different safe modes. It would do nothing."
In his case, a seemingly legitimate FBI warning came on the screen saying that he was using copyrighted sites, and he would have to pay $400 to unlock the computer and save his files from being wiped
"It made it really look legitmate to where it kind of threw a red flag to me, like 'Whoa, hey!' So I started unplugging stuff, not sure what to do," Blackwell said.
He took it to New Look Computer and Data" in St. Johns, where they're getting at least three cases like it a day.
"Anybody that connects to a computer, then anybody that gets online. If you're on Facebook, Google, Yahoo, YouTube, Hulu, you name it," said Jason Denovich, owner of New Look Computer and Data. "Any of those popular sites you run the risk of picking the virus up."
The virus demands money on a deadline or says the user will lose everything. It could even be hidden in an email that appears perfectly normal. Then once you open it, the virus begins downloading, and it's basically too late. But experts say you should never pay the ransom.
"The virus doesn't go away, it's installed to the computer and it has to be removed," Denovich said.
So, rather than hand over money and your personal information to the bad guys, take it to the professionals to fix right away.
"We actually can completely remove the virus, hand the computer back and the customer won't even know anything happened at that point," Denovich said.
At New Look Computer and Data, it costs about $55 to get a virus removed.
To help avoid the virus and other ones like it, Denovich recommends keeping Java updated. That's the software that most popular websites use all the time. If you're not running on the latest version though, viruses can find a way in more easily.
Visit New Look Computer and Data's website for more information.