You may have heard on the news that the National Crime Agency has been warning of some particularly nasty malware that has become a pressing concern. The warnings are about two specific bits of malware. One of these is called "Cryptolocker". This has been doing the rounds for a few months now. This infection encrypts all the files it can find on your PC and network and then charges a ransom to unlock them.
The second of these is called "GOZeus" (or "Gameover Zeus") which searches around your PC for any confidential information it can find (bank details, passwords etc), then sends these on to the attackers. It also enables them to assume control of your machine entirely in some cases. This includes the ability to go on and install the aforementioned Cryptolocker without any action taken on your part.
These attacks have been (and are being) spread mainly via emails purporting to be from banks, phone companies, the Post Office, Amazon and many others. They all come with zip file attachments that contain these attacks. It is almost certain that you will never get a legitimate email from one of these major companies with a zip file (unless you know of a specific reason otherwise). Be wary of any email with a zip file attachment - even if it is from a known source. If you're unsure, ring the person that sent you the email to check they definitely intended to send you an email with a zip file.
It is always good practice to ensure you have up to date virus software on your machine. Visit the Get Safe Online website for detailed information about this threat. For those of you that don't have a support contract with us, there's also advice here on what measures can be taken if you think you may have been infected. For those that do have a support contract with us, please ring us if you're at all unsure about an attachment you've received or if you think you may have inadvertently opened one of these attachments. The sooner we know, the sooner we can check and act if necessary.
This particular threat is only an issue for machines running Windows, so Mac users needn’t worry about this particular outbreak. The general advice about vigilance when opening any file you’re not sure about still applies here as well though.