ENGLEWOOD, Colo (CBS4) Computer users should be on the lookout for a virus that locks up your computer and a scam that asks you for $200 to fix the problem.
The Federal Bureau of Investigations is getting a dozen complaints a day about this virus. When the computer locks up a screen comes up with the FBI logo, it says that the operating system is locked due to a violation of Federal Law. The scam is that the screen says that you have to pay $200 to unlock the computer. It says that you have 72-hours to pay or you will be arrested.
“The FBI will never insist that you need to pay a fine to the FBI to unlock it. That’s not a law enforcement tactic,” said Supervisory Special Agent Herbert Stapleton in the FBI podcast.
Kathy Neary got virus on one of her computers. She used another computer to research what was going on, realized it was a scam, and worked with Norton Anti-Virus to get her computer working again.
“I’m still not 100-percent sure that it’s completely cleared,” Neary told CBS4.
That’s one of the problems with this virus/scam. It’s called Reveton ransomware. Ransomware because it requests money. Scammers use it in connection with other malware, so unlocking your computer doesn’t mean you’re done with this invasion.
“If you restart it and play with it, chances are you’re going to receive additional infections with makes it even harder to disinfect,” said Steve Utke, a computer expert with Surge Computers of Highlands Ranch.
Another problem with this virus/scam is that it’s what’s called a “drive-by” virus, meaning that you can pick it up just by surfing the web. There is no way to know which sites are infected. So you can get locked up through no fault of your own.
“The anti-virus program that you have should have browser protection. If it doesn’t you should probably change to one that does have browser protection,” Utke added.
Utke recommends F-Secure, it has browser protection. If you do get infected you should see a computer specialist to make sure your computer gets cleaned correctly.
“Right now, the computer’s working. I want to take some more steps to make sure nothing else is hidden in there,” Neary said.
Utke recommends running multiple scans on your computer to check for malware. Free scans include Malwarbytes and Easy Clean by F-Secure are good options. Certain kinds of malware can capture personal information like user names, passwords, and credit card information.
RELATED: More Reports By 4 On Your Side Consumer Investigator Jodi Brooks
- Written for the Web by CBS4 Special Projects Producer Libby Smith