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New computer virus hits borderland residents

By: Patrick Hayes

EL PASO, Texas -- A new computer virus could cost you hundreds of dollars.

Justin Gibson has been working with computers for about 10 years and said a virus like this is almost unheard of.

"The best antivirus is a cautious user," said Gibson, "one that's weary of the attachments they're downloading." 

Experts say the virus travels via email and could look like an attachment.  It encrypts your files then asks for a ransom. 

Gibson added, "Usually there's a time limit on there in order to make the user act fast."

Borderland residents say they've seen a version of this scheme called "CryptoDonkey." This version gives its victims five days to pay $500 or risk losing their files.

Dr. Irbis Gallegos works at the University of Texas El Paso and handles its cybersecurity.

Gallegos said, "The files are going to be really, really small. So if you see that there's an attachment with a small size, that should raise a flag."

The FBI is aware of this scheme and said once the files are encrypted, the only computer that can access them is the one owned by the attacker.

External hard drives have also been impacted, so experts suggest using an online storage system like iCloud.

If you think you've been a victim of the "CryptoDonkey" virus, you can call Dr. Gallegos at 915-747-7629 or email him at irbisg@utep.edu.