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What is the Dridex computer virus and am I at risk?

Chris Torney / 15 October 2015

A computer virus called Dridex is threatening thousands of PCs in the UK and helping criminals to raid bank accounts. Find out how to protect your computer.

Image of a virus to represent computer viruses
Humans are not the only ones susceptible to viruses.... your computer is at risk from another form of 'virus'

An estimated £20 million has been stolen as a result of the computer virus called Dridex. So how does the Dridex virus work and how can you protect yourself against infection and potential financial losses?

What is Dridex?

Dridex is a type of malicious computer program known as “malware”. Once it appears on a victim’s computer – only PCs running the Windows operating system appear to be affected – it allows its creators to steal information, such as online banking log-in details.

10 sure-fire signs your computer has a virus

How does it infect computers?

Dridex is spread using fake emails, which typically purport to come from a bank or retailer. The emails contain what looks like a Microsoft Office attachment such as a Word document or Excel spreadsheet.

If the recipient of the email opens the attachment, this can allow the virus to run on their computer.

The attachment may ask the user if they wish to “enable macros”. Macros are mini programs inside the likes of Word and Excel which help to replicate common tasks or chunks of text.

Dridex uses a macro to install itself, so it may be blocked if you refuse to enable macros on the attachment in question.

Read our guide to spotting a scam email.

How can Dridex access my bank account?

Once on your computer, the virus can record what information you type in when visiting certain websites, such as your bank’s. This is then relayed to criminals who log in to your accounts and move money to their own.

How can I stay safe?

It is important to be suspicious of emails that contain attachments or that appear out of the blue – even if they say they are from your bank or another organisation you have had dealings with.

Also, be cautious of clicking on links in emails. If your bank wants to speak to you, phone them or contact them via online banking through the website you normally use.

Installing good anti-virus software is also vital. The Cyber Streetwise service run by the government has details of software packages you can use here.

Five things your bank will never ask you to do... but a scammer might.

What should I do if I think I’ve been infected?

A number of anti-virus software companies are offering free tools to scan for the Dridex virus: details are available on this page on the Cyber Streetwise website (scroll down to the heading “What do I do if my computer has been infected?”).

If you think money has been taken from your bank, contact them as well as the crime-reporting service Action Fraud.

Read our guide to staying safe online.

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.