Malware demands payment for alleged copyright infringement

Infected users are asked to pay £50 or their computer will remain locked

A new wave of malware freezes a computer and demands payment to unlock it, this time falsely alleging victims have infringed copyright.

The campaign, spotted by Roman Hussy, who authors the abuse.ch blog, targets users in the U.K., Switzerland, Germany, Austria, France and the Netherlands.

Hussy posted a screenshot of the warning that users in the U.K. would see. It bears the logos of the Performing Right Society (PRS), a royalties collection organization, and the Metropolitan Police.

It falsely alleges that material protected by copyright has been found on the computer and subsequently has been moved to an encrypted folder "to prevent further damage."

"To unlock your computer and to avoid other legal consequences, you are obligated to pay a release fee of £50 (US$80)," it reads.

The ransom can be paid with Paysafecard, a prepaid payment card offered throughout Europe and a few other countries such as the U.S. Hussy wrote the scam's perpetrators even included information on where victims could purchase a Paysafecard.

The type of malware, known as "ransomware," is nothing new, but the methods for manipulating users into paying change frequently. Hussy wrote in early March that a similar ransomware falsely warned of child pornography on a computer, demanding a £100 fine.

In this latest version, users can be infected with the ransomware if they visit a website that has been hacked to serve up the Blackhole exploit kit. The kit tries a handful of exploits on a user's computer, and if vulnerable software is found, can infect it with malware.

Depending on where the user is located, the appropriate local page is delivered. Hussy wrote that he suspects whomever is behind the campaign is German due to the German words in the URLs in localized versions of the scam.

As of Sunday, the ransomware was only being detected by four of 42 security products on VirusTotal, Hussy wrote. In addition to locking up a computer, the malware also contains a component called Aldi Bot, which can steal online bank account credentials and conduct distributed denial-of-service attacks, Hussy wrote.

Send news tips and comments to jeremy_kirk@idg.com

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jeremy Kirk

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?