A Russian computer virus might be hitting New Zealand computers but a local computer whizz says the best we can do is back up our data and use our common sense.
According to international reports, up to a million computers have already been infected by malware software called GOZeuS and Cryptolocker that steals bank details and demands a ransom.
They typically infect a computer via attachments or links in emails.
British and United States government agencies have cracked down on the viruses but the UK's National Crime Agency has warned people that in just two weeks the system could be running again.
Nelson Computer Services Call a Geek owner-operator Jeroen Van Zijll De Jong said he had seen a handful of viruses of this kind in the past year, the most recent being this month.
Cryptolocker was particularly nasty, he said.
This month's viruses scrambled a user's files and demanded a fee to reverse the damage.
He did not know of anyone who had actually paid the ransom fee.
While his business could ordinarily fix computers with generic viruses this one wiped all of the computer's data.
"If you relate it to a person, if a person catches a virus and it makes them paraplegic, doctors can get rid of the virus but they can't fix the paraplegic bit."
In that sense Call a Geek could help get rid of the viruses on computers but they could not help reboot the system if it did not have back-up.
Anti-virus software was not a foolproof way to protect computers, he said.
Many of his customers had anti-virus software, he said.
"You can put your helmet on while you motorbike but you still have to drive the thing carefully."
The best course of action was to install anti-virus software, back up all valuable data and use one's common sense.
He warned people not to download or upload, nor to click on links that looked suspicious.
"If you see an email that looks suspicious do not open the attachment, is the general rule."
If the virus was going to hit in two weeks as reports suggested, then it was still a good idea to back up any valuable data.
If something did happen in two weeks it meant that the virus was already there, just dormant.
"A hacker cannot just plonk a virus on your computer. It is user dependent."
- The Nelson Mail
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