Cryptolocker makes millions of dollars in four months

The latest malware Cryptolocker holds computer systems hostage until owners agree to pay a ransom.

If hackers aren't out to steal a few numbers off the back of a credit card, then they've graduated onto holding an entire computer system hostage.

Scott Erwin of Scott's Custom Computers said, "Cryptolocker is not necessarily a normal virus as to what we're used to, it's actually moving into the trend of ransom-ware."

ZDNet, a business technology news website, conducted a study on the new virus that hackers unleashed in September 2013.

According to the study the virus has infected nearly 250,000 computers, holding each computer ransom for about $300.

"What it does is it encrypts your files to keep you from accessing your own documents," Erwin said.

According to Erwin it takes about 4-5 hours to encrypt the entire computer, it then gives you a time limit to pay a certain amount of money to retrieve the files.

Erwin has worked a few Cryptolocker cases in Amarillo. He said one thing people should never do is pay the ransom.

"The new trend going toward ransom where there's profit in it," Erwin said. "Anytime there's money to be made, legal or not the trend is going to keep growing."

Darren Lard of Animal Computers said the money being paid is untraceable.

"They pay to a bitcoin account, and 90 percent of the time people will not get their personal files back."

In December ZDNet traced four bitcoin addresses posted by users who had been infected by the virus, only to find out a total $22 million has been paid to these computer money runners.