Skype users would do well to keep an eye out for a bit of malicious software currently doing the rounds. Security firm Trend Micro reported the malware as “spreading fast,” saying the first thing a user will know about it is when the words “lol is this your new profile pic?” – or something similar – appears on their screen in the form of an instant message from one of their Skype contacts.

The message is followed by a link, which, if clicked on, could launch the download of the malicious software, a variant of the Dorkbot worm.

Once loaded, the user will find themselves locked out of their machine. But worse than that, a message will warn them that unless they cough up $200 within 48 hours, all the files on their computer will be deleted.

Grahm Cluley of security firm Sophos told TechCrunch the so-called ransomware is like “kidnappers shooting hostages one by one, if their demands aren’t met….it’s really creepy, unpleasant behavior – and sadly becoming more common.”

Skype responded to news of the worm on Tuesday, saying in a statement: “Skype takes the user experience very seriously, particularly when it comes to security. We are aware of this malicious activity and are working quickly to mitigate its impact.”

It continued: “We strongly recommend upgrading to the newest Skype version and applying updated security features on your computer. Additionally, following links – even when from your contacts – that look strange or are unexpected is not advisable.”

According to TechCrunch, Trend Micro is reporting around 400 detections worldwide of the malware in under 12 hours. The actual figure will be markedly higher as this data is  drawn only from those machines running Trend Micro products.

Though we know we shouldn’t click on unexpected links, it’s easily done in a moment of distraction. Keep your eyes peeled for this one.