A new "drive-by" virus on the internet freezes a user's computer and carries a fake FBI message that they pay a fine for visiting inappropriate websites.
The virus is known as Reveton ransomware, and it's designed to extort money from its victims.
"We're getting inundated with complaints," said Donna Gregory of the Internet Crime Complaint Center.
Reveton is described as drive-by malware because unlike many viruses, which activate when users open a file or attachment, this one can install itself when users simply click on a compromised website. Once infected, the victim's computer immediately locks, and the monitor displays a screen stating there has been a violation of federal law.
The bogus message goes on to say 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 using a prepaid money card service.
"While browsing the internet, a window popped up with no way to close it," one Reveton victim recently wrote to the complaint center. "The window was labeled FBI and said I was in violation of one of the following: illegal use of downloaded media, underage porn viewing, or computer-use negligence. It listed fines and penalties for each and directed me to pay $200 via a MoneyPak order. Instructions were given on how to load the card and make the payment. The page said if the demands were not met, criminal charges would be filed and my computer would remain locked on that screen."
The Internet Crime Complaint Center suggests the following for those who become a victim of the Reveton virus:
Do not pay any money or provide any personal information.
Contact a computer professional to remove Reveton and Citadel from your computer.
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.
File a complaint and look for updates about the Reveton virus on the IC3 website.
Copyright 2012 CBS 5 (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
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