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Ransomware is a type of malware (malicious software) that is making its way into computers around the state and internationally. Reveton is described by the FBI as a computer virus that is designed to lock a user’s computer until the victim pays a “ransom” to the crook using a prepaid money service card.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has issued an alert for one of the many variations that claims it is from the FBI. It locks the victim’s computer and displays a message saying that the user’s Internet address was identified by the FBI or the Department of Justice’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section as having been associated with child pornography sites or other illegal online activity. To unlock their machines, users are required to pay a fine to the FBI. Of course, the FBI never contacts anyone in this manner.
Hard Drive Encrypted
Several law enforcement agencies in Florida report that they have had citizens in their jurisdiction that have been the victim of a type of ransomware called Cryptolocker. Some report paying the $300 ransom and receiving a password that unlocked their computer after payment. It appears that the virus encrypted their computer hard drive until they entered the password. Experts remind us to be aware that even if you are able to unfreeze your computer on your own, the malware may still operate in the background. Certain types of malware have been known to capture personal information such as user names, passwords, and credit card numbers through embedded keystroke logging programs.
What Can We Do?
When you inform your citizens about this danger, you can remind them of the following
- Install and update your computer’s anti-virus software. The best cure is to prevent the virus from being loaded onto the computer in the first place.
- Call law enforcement if your computer displays the locked ransom warning screen.
- If the computer is infected, have a professional computer technician attempt the repair.
- Back up your computer hard drive frequently so you won’t lose all of your information if you become a victim.
Here are links to FBI and IC3 bulletins for additional information on Reveton, Citadel, ransomware and the FBI scam.