From paying our bills and managing our finances to communicating with friends and shopping for the best deals, the Internet now plays a pivotal role in the daily lives of most Americans. However, this increased online exposure is not without its consequences, as both computer viruses and associated cyber crime has exploded over the last decade.
In fact, federal law enforcement officials are now warning people to be on guard against a particularly virulent strain of computer virus that they say is designed to extort money from unwitting computer users.
Once downloaded, the virus -- referred to as Reveton ransomware -- locks the screen of a computer user and displays a phony message from the FBI indicating that the IP address has been linked to federal crime, including child pornography, illegal media download or computer-use negligence.
It then goes on to instruct the computer user to pay a sizeable fine via a prepaid money card service, and that the failure to do so will result in charges being filed and the computer screen remaining frozen.
What's so insidious about Reveton, say experts with the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), is that it is a form of drive-by malware. This means that unlike more common computer viruses that are only activated after a computer user opens a file or attachment, Reveton can be activated just by visiting a corrupted website.
Unfortunately, federal officials have indicated that Reveton is causing problems for more and more computer users.
"We are getting dozens of complaints every day," said Donna Gregory of IC3, which was established back in 2000 as a partnership between the FBI and the National White Collar Crime Center. "Unlike other viruses, Reveton freezes your computer and stops it in its tracks. And the average user will not be able to easily remove the malware."
In the event that the virus is inadvertently downloaded, the FBI advises computer users to file a complaint with IC3, avoid paying the fine, and find a qualified computer expert to help remove it from their computer.
Whether you have been charged or are currently under investigation for a sex crime, cyber crime or white collar crime, be certain to contact an experienced legal professional to help protect your rights.
Stay tuned for more from our San Antonio criminal defense blog ...
This post was provided for informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice.
KRTV-3, "FBI Internet scam warning: Reveton ransomware," David Schechter, Jan. 12, 2013