Being Held Ransom

Me:  Can you come look at this?  It’s locked up my computer.  I’ve done warm and cold boots three times now and it comes back to this same screen.

Hubby:  Is your virus protection on?

Me:  Yes – and it just did an update an hour ago.

Hubby:  (taking off glasses, rubbing forehead, and then eyes)  You have a virus.


And so goes the rest of my workday…

Hubby:  You don’t seem particularly concerned.

Me:  I backed up my working files right before this happened.


After an hour and a half on the phone with McAfee – and the charge of $89.95 – my system is working again.  Here’s what I know about this bad “ransom malware”, and what you should know too.

  • It impacts both Windows and Apple operating systems.  It may be attached to Adobe Flash Player or iTunes or other programs updates.
  • It attaches to video and audio files, and there’s no pattern explained about why it attaches to specific files.   Beware YouTube and mp3 files.
  • It may attach to a file sent by a friend – or not.  You may not even know you’ve received it if it attaches to an automatic program update.
  • It can sit on your computer for days or weeks.  No one seems to know where it came from originally.  It will try to gather your personal information.
  • You will suddenly see a screen with FBI CyberCrimes Division at the top and Interpol in the background, and it will say that you have downloaded illegal **** files and need to pay $300 to get your computer unlocked.  It threatens an automatic lawsuit if you do not comply in 72 hours.  Rebooting, both warm and cold, brings you back to the same screen.
  • It will be happy to take your credit card information for payment!


Needless to say, don’t pay!  And call your virus protection company.  I remain a little peeved that despite McAfee doing constant updates to my system and running scans more than daily (all of which slow down my processing speed), it didn’t catch this.  Unfortunately, none of the other virus protection companies are any better.  I hope to get over my disappointment about this in a week or so.

Based on what I heard from McAfee, there is a wide outbreak of this ransom malware right now.  In fact, I didn’t even need to tell them what my screen looked like – they knew the infection based on the call activity they were seeing.  I hope none of you gets this virus!

Word of warning – back up your critical files – and do so VERY often!

Do you have an opinion about computer problems?  How often do YOU back up your system and update your virus protection?