The RCMP wants the public to be aware of malicious software that is literally popping up on internet users’ browsers and holding their computers ransom.
As part of Fraud Awareness Month, the RCMP are highlighting some of the sophisticated internet-related schemes and scare tactics scammers are using to trick consumers into paying for goods or services.
‘This type of pop-up goes far beyond being a nuisance and can actually harm your computer,’ says Cpl. Christian Hochhold of Nova Scotia RCMP’s technological crime unit. ‘If you cannot access anything on the computer beyond the pop-up screen your computer is infected.’
Ransomware, as it is called, is malware that restricts access to the computer system that it infects, and demands a ransom be paid to the creator of the malware in order for the restriction to be removed. Some forms of ransomware, such as CryptoLocker, install themselves on the computer and encrypt files on the hard drive. Once installed, a pop-up appears indicating that the files are locked and the data will be lost unless you pay the scammer a sum of money. This type of ransomware is extremely difficult to clean and there is no guarantee that you will be able recover the data.
‘Do not pay the scammer’s ransom request. Be sure to frequently backup your important data in case your computer is infected and if it is, have it cleaned to remove any malware’ advises Cpl. Hochhold. ‘To prevent ransomware attacks, ensure software such as anti-malware, web browser and operating system are up-to-date; be cautious of the websites you visit, the e-mail attachments you receive and regularly scan your computer for malware.’
Visit the fraud section of the RCMP’s website for the top ten cyber crime prevention tips: http://www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/tops-opst/tc-ct/cyber-tips-conseils-eng.htm. If you think you or someone you know has been a victim of fraud please contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre 1-888-495-8501 or www.antifraudcentre.ca.