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.

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