Australians are paying thousands of dollars to overseas hackers to rid their computers of an unbreakable virus known as Cryptolocker.

There has been a rise in the number of people falling victim to the latest version of an encryption virus which hijacks computer files and demands a ransom to restore them.

The "ransomware" infects computers through programs and credible-looking emails, taking computer files and photographs hostage.

Cryptolocker comes in a number of versions with the common delivery method being via Email.

It can arrive in an email disguised as a speeding fine, Power & Water Bill, Bank Statmetment and many more versions.  Look for spelling & grammar issues and if you are not sure of the validity delete the email and call the company purporting to be sending the details.

Once the application is launched it silently encrypts all the data and presents you with a Ransom Note demanding money typically in BitCoin.

If it's on Bitcoin they can use it to purchase anything online from gold bullion, to shares, to property even and it's virtually untraceable and you have to buy it with cash.

Many people have opted to pay rather than worry about trying to fix it as this is where you realise that your backups do not work.

The advice is to delete it unsure, contact the sender to verify but NEVER follow or click on the links.

Here’s how to protect your data;

Use an up-to-date antivirus with internet protection that helps you avoid fake emails and spam
Don’t open suspicious emails or attachments from unverified sources.  - Remember that banks, companies and agencies don’t ask for personal information via email
Back important files up, either online or on external drives (and disconnect them when not backing up)
Make sure your operating system is updated and patched