NSA-themed ransomware leverages public concern over privacy

By on September 21, 2013, 3:00 PM

A variant of ransomware making the rounds aims to leverage the public’s increasing concern with regard to the NSA’s recently declassified PRISM surveillance program. Upon infection, the ransomware will lock down a computer’s web browser and display a warning message claiming illegal content was found on the machine.

As with other ransomware, users are advised that they could face anywhere between six months to 10 years behind bars and a fine of up to $250,000 unless they pay a small fee of just $300 using MoneyPak. The latter option will classify the incident as occasional or unmotivated and they are off the hook.

As you can see from the screenshot above, the warning is plastered with ominous seals from the FBI, the Department of Justice and the NSA – oh and there’s even an image of police officers thrown in for good measure. Collected technical data like the user’s IP address, location, ISP and operating system are also included to beef up the warning’s legitimacy.

Naturally, we wouldn’t expect any of our readers to fall for this type of scam but those with little knowledge about computers or individuals that might have heard about the NSA or PRISM could easily fall victim. Of course, the fact that several of the words in the warning are misspelled combined with the idea that a federal agency would let someone buy their way out of such a crime should be enough to raise some red flags even for those that know very little about computers.




User Comments: 5

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Khanonate said:

Ok, ok, I'll pay!

1 person liked this | MilwaukeeMike said:

Of course, the fact that several of the words in the warning are misspelled combined with the idea that a federal agency would let someone buy their way out of such a crime should be enough to raise some red flags.

Actually the govt lets you buy your way out of crimes all the time. They're called citations and they're a step down from misdemeanors. Here is Wisconsin you can buy your way out of your first 3 drunk driving offenses.

The real give-a-way is the $300 charge. The govt would never have such a round number. They always charge you like $141.60 for a speeding ticket or something obscure. And if the govt lets you pay online, there would be a $2 'convenience' fee. Clearly the authors of this site have never gotten a citation in America.

1 person liked this | Darth Shiv Darth Shiv said:

You never know... maybe the NSA might start doing this for revenue? It's not beneath them...

Skidmarksdeluxe Skidmarksdeluxe said:

Of course, the fact that several of the words in the warning are misspelled combined with the idea that a federal agency would let someone buy their way out of such a crime should be enough to raise some red flags.

Actually the govt lets you buy your way out of crimes all the time. They're called citations and they're a step down from misdemeanors. Here is Wisconsin you can buy your way out of your first 3 drunk driving offenses.

The real give-a-way is the $300 charge. The govt would never have such a round number. They always charge you like $141.60 for a speeding ticket or something obscure. And if the govt lets you pay online, there would be a $2 'convenience' fee. Clearly the authors of this site have never gotten a citation in America.

Here in South Africa you simply pay the officer who pulls you over a $10 bribe for a traffic violation (inc. DUI) and you simply drive away. How convenient is that?

Guest said:

The convenience of paying $10 for driving drunk is irrelevant, that's a stupid crime that you should actually be punished for. However the way in which justice is served (at least in the USA), is partially responsible for this kind of scam's effectiveness. In my book, dealing with the law is equivalent to Russian roulette and people want nothing to do with it, even if they've done nothing wrong and can prove it.

How sad is that?

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