Have you ever heard of ransomware? It is a particularly frightening new form of malware. A recent story published by Slate goes into the details of how it attacks your computer. After clicking on a dubious link from an email or a webpage, your screen will instantly turn grey. Then a message pops up that is branded to look like it’s from the FBI. Additionally, it has you on a live webcam feed!
That isn’t even the scariest part. A message will then appear on your screen telling you that you have violated copyright laws and have two choices. One, pay a fine within 48 to 72 hours, or two, go to prison for as much as three years. You are also told that if you do not pay your computer will be locked indefinitely.
A real threat
Obviously you will not be charged with anything if you don’t pay, it is a scam. However, they may actually be able to lock you out of your computer according to a senior security advisor quoted by Slate. So should you just pay the fine to prevent this, it’s usually in the $100 range, or not? Maybe not, once they have your money there is no guarantee they won’t lock your computer anyway to get more money.
McAfee, the well-known maker of antivirus software, noted that it recorded more than 120,000 new examples of ransomware attacks in the second quarter of 2012. How to protect yourself? Exactly the same way you protect yourself from any type of malicious code. Make certain you have antivirus software installed on your computer. Just as significantly, don’t visit dubious websites, illegally download files to your computer, or click on strange links in email addresses.
And if your computer is infected? This is a pretty complex type of malware. To revive your computer, you might need to recruit the help of a computer security expert. Slate also suggests that you contact the real FBI by filing a complaint at www.ic3.gov.