We always try to report on emerging threats to heavy users of computers and internet technology so that our medical coding online program students are well-informed and can avoid damaging and costly viruses and other online threats. Since people taking medical coding online programs are, by definition, “netizens”, we are writing today to warn of a new threat out on the ‘net.
Today’s special little online irritant is known as the “Locky” ransomware virus. Ransomware (according to Wikipedia) is a type of malware that restricts access to the infected computer system in some way, and demands that the user pay a ransom to the malware operators to remove the restriction. Locky encrypts your data using AES encryption and then demands .5 bitcoins to decrypt your files. It is transmitted via a harmless looking email that pretends to be an invoice seeking to be paid. Users get the email seeking remittance for a payment due. When the Microsoft Word document supposedly containing the invoice is downloaded and opened, the malicious code is injected and the user’s computer is frozen until the ransom of .5 bitcoins is paid. (For those unaware, Bitcoin is an online “crypto-currency” or form of online money.
The good nerds at www.BleepingComputer.com have run down the details on the scam, how it is transmitted and how it can be avoided. You should immediately read their article here. Studying an medical coding online program is a very safe and effective way to earn a certification and a new career. There are very few risks involved and things like this should not dissuade you from considering this course of study. You should never open any email from unknown senders anyway. We will continue to share this type of information as it comes up (which is really very infrequently).