BALTIMORE, Md. - You know all about malware that can infect your computer and help con artists get access to information on your machine. But according to the FBI, the latest malware scam making the rounds also does something even worse.
Go ahead and call it a drive-by, because that's the phrase being used by the feds to describe a virus that's infecting peoples' computers resulting in dozens of complaints to the Internet Crime Complaint Center every day. The IC3 says this virus gets that description because instead of activating when you click a bad link or attachment, this malware installs itself when you happen to click on a compromised website.
And what happens next is scary. According to the FBI, your computer freezes and locks, with a message like this popping up. The message says you've violated federal law and have been identified by the feds as being associated with child porn or other illegal activity.
To get out of trouble, the feds warn you essentially have to pay a ransom. In this case, victims are asked to pay a bogus fine with a pre-paid money card or money order. The scammers threaten that if you don't pay, you'll face criminal charges and your computer will stay locked.
Reps with the IC3 say people have been paying these fines, even though it's a scam. Experts say if your computer freezes with this malware, you shouldn't hand over any money or information. Instead, you need to contact a computer repair team to get this virus off your machine.
And keep in mind, even if you are able to unlock your computer, the virus may still be lingering someone in the background.