Have you ever read about ransomware? It is a especially 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. It also has you on a live webcam feed!
If that wasn’t unnerving enough, the next part is even scarier. You’ll then receive a message on your screen telling you that you have violated federal copyright laws. You are given two choices, pay a fine, or deal with three years in prison. You are then given a deadline with which to pay the fine, usually this is 48 to 72 hours. The message further threatens you by saying you will get locked out of your computer permanently if you don’t pay.
A real threat
The part about your infraction is a scam, and it is just a way for these thieves to make money. However, there is one piece of this that is very damaging. You could be locked out of your computer if you do not pay says a senior security advisor quoted by Slate. So might it be wiser to just pay their demands? Which is usually in the $100 range. Even if you did pay, there is no telling whether or not they will unlock your computer. They may just demand more money.
So how can you protect yourself? The same way you always have, with up-to-date antivirus software. Also, be aware of what sites you visit and don’t click on links in emails from people you don’t know.
And if your computer is infected? This is a pretty complex type of malware. To revive your computer, you might need to enlist the help of a computer security expert. Slate also suggests that you contact the real FBI by filing a complaint at www.ic3.gov.