Cybercrime organizations have stepped up their “game”. They’ve moved from using viruses to secretly steal our private information and bank accounts, to full-blown, in your face extortion. They do this with viruses called ransomware. There are several variants of this genre of crime.
One ransomware virus locks up your computer’s desktop and notifies you to send money to get it unlocked. Another one locks up your desktop and changes the desktop background to an embarrassingly explicit pornographic image, supposedly to make you hesitate to call a technical support person for help (and further your embarrassed state of mind). Primarily because it also displays a message that reads: Warning! you surfed gay porn videos for three hours. The free viewing time has expired. To pay for the service, you need to make an online payment through the Beeline system to XXXXXXX for the amount of $400 USD. All which, may be difficult to explain to your boss and the IT Department.
Another method pretends to be an adult game which collects some of your personal information that you enter, then it monitors any pornographic Internet pages you visit and store all this in a certain website. The crooks then threaten to expose this list if you don’t pay them—another act of extortion.
Still another of their dirty deeds encrypts the files on your computer. Yeah…you guessed it; they then require you to pay to have the files decrypted so that you can use them again.
There’s also one that blocks your computer from booting until you pay $100 to obtain a password.
What can you do to protect yourself from these bad boys? Keep your antivirus program updated…you do have one, right?… And backup your files on a regular basis (restoring backed up files will overwrite the encrypted ones). For more information see Symantec.com’s article Rampant Ransomware.
As I’ve said before: “it’s dangerous out there…be careful, very careful.”
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Remember, home computing is a blast…keep it safe, productive and enjoyable.