A DANGEROUS computer virus that wipes out personal documents and locks sensitive files is attacking Irish computers, say security experts.
Called Cryptolocker, the so-called 'ransomware' virus demands €300 from owners of infected computers.
Once active, the virus locks all files and documents on the computer. It then demands up to €300, payable online through untraceable money wire services, to unlock the files.
"It's definitely one of the most damaging pieces of malware I've ever seen in the last 10 years," said Rob Scanlon, founder of IT security firm ComputerAmbulance.ie.
The Cryptolocker malware, which is not known to affect tablets or smartphones, is caught by opening programs in hoax banking emails or by visiting some adult websites.
The malware has been in circulation for two months, but appears to have begun infecting Irish PCs in greater numbers over the last two weeks.
Experts advise that the best way to protect against 'ransomware' applications such as Cryptolocker is to regularly back personal files up.