The FBI as well as Canadian law enforcement agencies are reporting an upsurge in an extortion type of malware that is unwittingly downloaded by victims on their computers through standard phishing tactics. Once the malware is installed, the computer freezes and a message appears that the computer user has been identified by the Justice Department as accessing illegal child pornography or illegally downloading music. In order to unlock the computer, the victim is told he or she must pay a $100 fine through the a prepaid money card service. The problems don’t stop there, however, as the malware also may contain keystroke logging programs that can further make you a victim of identity theft.
The first thing to remember is that you should not pay the demanded ransom. Legitimate law enforcement does not make demands for payments in this fashion. Have your computer security software do a scan to locate and remove the malware. You may need to have a computer professional clear your computer of the malware. People who have not maintained their computer’s security software and firewall up to date are the most at risk for this particular scam.