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

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

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." ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Webcam hacker pervs in MASS HOME INVASION
You thought you were all alone? Nope – change your password, says ICO
You really need to do some tech support for Aunty Agnes
Free anti-virus software, expires, stops updating and p0wns the world
Meet OneRNG: a fully-open entropy generator for a paranoid age
Kiwis to seek random investors for crowd-funded randomiser
USB coding anarchy: Consider all sticks licked
Thumb drive design ruled by almighty buck
Attack reveals 81 percent of Tor users but admins call for calm
Cisco Netflow a handy tool for cheapskate attackers
Privacy bods offer GOV SPY VICTIMS a FREE SPYWARE SNIFFER
Looks for gov malware that evades most antivirus
Patch NOW! Microsoft slings emergency bug fix at Windows admins
Vulnerability promotes lusers to domain overlords ... oops
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Getting ahead of the compliance curve
Learn about new services that make it easy to discover and manage certificates across the enterprise and how to get ahead of the compliance curve.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.