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Information security engineers are warning the public of accessing electronic mails (e-mails) which contained a malware in the form of a “ransom-ware” which could in turn result in the computer data becoming completely inaccessible.

The Sri Lanka Computer Emergency Readiness Team (SLCERT) said that the strange ransom-ware could access all the data found on the computer via e-mail.

According to Senior Information Security Engineer at SLCERT, Roshan Chandragupta, the subjects of the emails containing the said malware, which could have as the sender, a source known or unknown to one (the user), contained attractive titles such as ‘This is the latest news’, ‘This is the latest update’ or ‘This is the latest release’. One should also be vary of opening newsletters, video attachments, portable documents format documents and bogus lottery winning results.

These e-mails come with attachments which have to be secured with a password which one has to enter. The password could be one’s personal e-mail or Facebook (a social media site) password.

When the attachment is opened, all the data on one’s computer gets encrypted. When a document gets encrypted, it gets converted to a different format. It has been further reported that upon encryption, the information and data including video files would be converted to an unreadable code. Money is then demanded by the sender of the said email in order for the files to be recovered. However, even if one were to make a payment it is impossible to recover the said files, to access them or open them. A way to decrypt and thereby to convert the information and data to a readable format or recover what has been lost including through the use of software has not been found yet.

“As far as I know, no one has paid to get the files back. If your computer gets encrypted, it is necessary to format your computer. To prevent such, it is good to backup one’s documents in a separate external hard drive aside to one’s computer. One should not open such e-mails while the external hard drive is attached to a port in one’s computer. Even though the said virus could get past virus guards, it is of paramount importance that one keeps them updated. The best thing to do is to avoid opening e-mails with attachments which come from unknown sources or persons,” Chandragupta explained.