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09 Feb 2017
‘Invoice’ opened, computer locked

Accidentally opening a malicious email attachment could spell serious trouble: it could install ransomware on your computer, a type of malware that encrypts your files, rendering them inaccessible.

It happened to someone who accidentally opened an  ‘invoice’ addressed to him personally in a fake email. Fraud Help Desk warned of this particular email last week. And today, many reports came in to Fraud Help Desk about a similar malicious attachment. The document attached to this email is not an invoice, it contains ransomware.

Undoubtedly not the only victim of this series of fake emails, the man sent us a screenshot of the ransomware message displayed on his computer. He hopes this may serve as a warning to others.


The full-screen message shows that the computer has been hit by a nasty piece of ransomware called CryptoLocker. It demands that the victim install a TOR browser, a free software programme that lets you communicate anonymously on the internet.

Next, the victim is told what action he should take to regain access to his computer files. First, he needs to pay € 499 by a certain deadline. If he fails to comply, the ransom will be raised to € 1000.

Watch out! Fraud Help Desk advises not to pay any ransom. There is no guarantee that you will receive the decryption key when you pay up. Moreover, paying a ransom may encourage the criminals and sustain the problem.

Our advice
Each day, many computers around the world are infected by ransomware. So, brace yourself for the day when your computer will be hit. Take precautions, such as making regular back-up copies of your files. This will significantly reduce the impact of any ransomware infection that may occur.

Read more about ransomware and how to protect yourself on our special theme page: Don’t let your data get hijacked.