Virus makers sometimes create what amount to digital versions of the creepy guy on the corner in a trenchcoat trying to convince kids to get in his ‘police van.’ The SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) virus is just the latest and worst example of this. It’s called ransomware, and it will lock down a victim’s computer and give them an ugly scare in the process.
TorrentFreak explains how the SOPA virus works:
[The] SOPA virus holds all files on the host computer ransom.
“Your computer is locked!” the splash screen above warns, adding:
“If you see a warning.txt or warning screen, it means your IP address was included in S.O.P.A. Black List. One or more of the following items were made from your PC:
1. Downloading or distributing audio or video files protected by Copyright Law.
2. Downloading or distributing illegal content (child porn, phishing software, etc.)
3. Downloading or distributing Software protected by Copyright Law.
As a result of these infringements based on Stop Online Piracy Act (H.R. 3261) your PC and files are now blocked.”
Now that the unwitting virus victim is terrified, the program goes in for the kill by warning that those who “don’t pay the fine within 72 HOURS at the amount of 200 USD all your computer data will be erased.” The ransom can be paid by a prepaid MoneyPak voucher or Western Union, depending on the victim’s location.
Because it makes so much sense for the feds to ignore alleged downloading of child porn or copyrighted material as long as they receive a mere $200 in return.
Don’t be scared if this pops up. After all, further action on SOPA was postponed by the U.S. House in January, 2012.
Simply search out guides to removing the ransomware, such as this one from YooSecurity. The same outfit created the helpful video below, which walks users through the steps to regaining control of a kidnapped computer–and hopefully restoring some peace of mind.
Video by YooSecurity.com.