Feeds

'NSA PRISM spies' shake down victims with bogus child-abuse vids claims

Punters falsely accused of being scumbags told to pay $300 to unlock PCs

High performance access to file storage

Crooks are using the NSA's notorious global web surveillance scandal in new ransomware: punters visiting booby-trapped websites are falsely accused of downloading illegal material, told their PCs are now locked from use, and ordered to hand over a cash "fine" to unlock their computers.

Cloud security firm Zscaler has spotted 20 hijacked domains hosting malicious web pages that attempt to trick naive web surfers into installing virus-killing scareware (because it's claimed their computer is supposedly riddled with malware) or handing over money to unlock PCs that have supposedly been used to download images of child abuse.

Marks are either confronted with a warning that malware has supposedly been detected on their computer, or a bogus NSA PRISM-themed alert. In both cases, the goal is to scare the target into paying the attacker to "fix" their computer.

The campaign started off by pushing fake antivirus software (aka scareware) on the pretext that viruses had supposedly been detected on a mark's computer and money had to be paid out to have the nasties removed.

Now it's pushing a ransomware scam, which claims that child porn has been detected on a PC. The user is told he or she can "avoid prosecution" by handing over $300. In the meantime the ransomware says it locks victims out of their machines.

These shenanigans have been common on the web for years, and it's only the PRISM angle that adds a new spin. Scammers are obviously hoping that their marks pay up to resolve the problem without giving this any further thought. The proposed opt-in system to allow adults to look at legit porn sites in the UK laws may inadvertently help the preposterous con appear a tad more plausible, according to Zscaler.

Accused ... how the ransomware appears in the web browser (click to enlarge)

"The attacker uses the recent news about PRISM to claim that the victim's computer has been blocked because it accessed illegal pornographic content," a blog post by Zscaler ThreatLabZ researcher Julien Sobrier explains.

"The victim has to pay $300 through MoneyPak, a prepaid card service."

"The ThreatLabZ team expect attackers to take advantages of the upcoming UK laws on accessing adult content online to send new types of fake warnings to UK victims." ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Parent gabfest Mumsnet hit by SSL bug: My heart bleeds, grins hacker
Natter-board tells middle-class Britain to purée its passwords
Obama allows NSA to exploit 0-days: report
If the spooks say they need it, they get it
Web data BLEEDOUT: Users to feel the pain as Heartbleed bug revealed
Vendors and ISPs have work to do updating firmware - if it's possible to fix this
Samsung Galaxy S5 fingerprint scanner hacked in just 4 DAYS
Sammy's newbie cooked slower than iPhone, also costs more to build
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
Call of Duty 'fragged using OpenSSL's Heartbleed exploit'
So it begins ... or maybe not, says one analyst
Snowden-inspired crypto-email service Lavaboom launches
German service pays tribute to Lavabit
German space centre endures cyber attack
Chinese code retrieved but NSA hack not ruled out
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
HP ArcSight ESM solution helps Finansbank
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.