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Date [ 2014-04-11, 04:41 ]

A new form of malevolence can send you to suicide.

(Kuala Lumpur=Koreanpress) Ramani Rathir = Internet users, sooner or later will come across or be subject to malware, viruses, Trojans and others.  But now there is a new form of internet danger called the ransomware. While other computer interruptions can be taken as mere nuisances, this has a more sinister result in that it can cause a person to commit suicide.

The modus operandi is simple. A message appears on a person’s computer accusing the owner of committing a crime and then goes on to lock his computer. The ‘crime’ is usually the downloading of illegal materials such as child pornography. It then goes on to demand payment to unlock his computer or face imprisonment.

Ransomware is a class of malware which restricts access to the computer system that it infects, and demands a ransom paid to the creator of the malware in order for the restriction to be removed. Some forms of ransomware encrypt files on the system's hard drive and cause what is known as cryptoviral extortion.

Others may simply lock the system and display messages intended to cohere the user into paying. At this point in time, a lot of users are not aware that many ransomware can be detected by anti-virus software and/or removed from infected computers.
This sort of scam was first popular in Russia, but now ransomware scams havespread all over the world. In June 2013, security software vendor McAfee released data showing that it had collected over 250,000 unique samples of ransomware in the first quarter of that year.

This was more than double the number it had obtained in the first quarter of 2012. Cyber criminals see a lucrative market and have moved aggressively into the ransomware business, presenting even greater challenges to law enforcement officials.

What is telling is that these scams can cause fear and death in innocent lives. Not only is the victim affected but also the family and friends. The most recent case happened in Romania. Here, Marcel Datuc received a ransomeware threat along with a demand for €16,000.

The 36 year old father, lived in Lovila Miresii, Braila County in east Romania. So shaken and scared was Datuc, that he not only took his own life but that also of his four year old son Nicusor. Before hanging himself, the man left behind a note stating that he could not bear the thought of going to prison, and worse, put his son through the humiliation and torment that a convicted father with a prison sentence would ultimately bring on his family.

Local police investigated Datcu’s computer and discovered he hadvisited an adult entertainment website. This was when he would have picked up the ransomware virus.

Datuc’s other sons discovered his body and that of four year old Nicusor with a note addressed to his wife.

The note read:“I received a warning [on my computer] that said I have to pay 70.000 lei [€16,000] or go to prison for 11 years.
I don’t think it’s normal what I’ve done…I apologise to all of you…I don’t want Nicusor to suffer because of me…I can’t stand going to prison. I can’t.”

He then hanged himself along with Nicusor.

Ransomware is usually sent to scare the recipient into paying the hacker in order to have it removed from their computer. In Dutuc’s case, the sum of money demanded was unusually large.Google has devised a system that blocks websites with suspected malware and directing the user to a screen that gives a stark warning.

It goes without saying users have to be wary of which websites they visit. One good simple protection is to ensure that anti-virus software is kept up to date. Ransomware viruses can be very terrifying for the recipient, who should be alright if he is aware that these are nothing more than scams with the intention of extracting cash from internet users.

Those who receive such a message should examine it closely. Any such scam should be reported to the relevant authorities, so it can be wiped out. Remember two people have died; one an innocent four year old.

Finally, do remember that no legitimate law enforcement agency will ask for payment even if you have broken the law.


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