Thousands of computer users have been warned that they have two weeks to take action to protect their machines against a powerful virus used to extort millions of pounds from victims worldwide.
The National Crime Agency said the two-week window opened after the FBI took control of servers used to manage the “highly sophisticated” malicious software that steals personal data.
More than 15,000 machines in the UK are believed to have been infected with the GameOver Zeus virus. It searches for files that will allow access to banking or financial information. The FBI believes that GameOver Zeus has been responsible for $100m (£60m) in losses.
The virus also distributes the aggressive CryptoLocker programme, which encrypts all files on a target's computer and then demands a “ransom” of about £300 to unlock them.
Internet service providers will now contact users affected by GameOver Zeus — distributed via links or attachments in unsolicited emails — offering advice on how to update anti-virus software to disable the virus.