TRENTON — The “NotPetya” ransomware cyberattack has so far affected mainly businesses, but that doesn't mean your computer is immune from being held the hostage.

"NotPetya is a trojan, which means it infects a computer then it attempts to replicate itself from that computer into other computers," explained New Jersey 101.5 science and technology consultant Dave Loudon. The virus takes advantage of a Microsoft vulnerability.

Loudon said once a computer is infected it will cause a reboot and appear to be doing a normal diagnostic check disc. "But what it's really doing is going through your files and encrypting all of your data files. Word files, Excel files, pictures, anything you would have created on your computer," leaving a message demanding payment to restore the files.

The twist is that even if you were to pay the price to get your files back, Loudon said the email account used for payment has been disabled. "Basically, you're screwed. You're not getting your files back," Loudon said.

Loudon said the "NotPetya" virus is only targeting computers running Windows. Macs, iPhones and tablets are not affected.

"Safe computer techniques" and being careful with email are the keys to keeping your network malware free, according to Loudon, including:

  • Use a reputable email provider.
  • If you get an email that doesn't look right or doesn't sound right put it right in the junk mail folder. That's going to prevent your computer from running anything in the email.
  • Keep your operating system patched and run the latest version.
  • Install a good anti-virus program.
  • Know your surroundings and pay attention to what's around you when you're using the computer.

New Jersey-based Merck was one of the companies worldwide affected on Tuesday and said in a tweet they believe they have the problem contained and were working on recovery plans with their external IT partners.

"As we address the potential impacts to our business, we will continue working to minimize distribution patients, our customers and other business partners," the company said.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at

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