Beware of Ransomware

Cybercriminals use social engineering to prey on our weaknesses. Sometimes they take advantage of our goodwill towards others, like in the “I’ve been mugged scam” I wrote about in a recent blog post. More often they try to trick us with deals that seem too good to be true

Cybercriminals can also sneak software (called “ransomware”) onto your computer. This will pop up a window warning that illegal material has been found on your computer, and lock you out of your computer unless you pay a fee. We’ve been reporting on this kind of scam at least as far back as 2008, but the Microsoft Malware Protection Center recently blogged about its resurgence in several languages, including English, Spanish, German, and Dutch.

Get more information about this scam from the Microsoft Malware Protection Center blog.

About the Author
Eve Blakemore

Group Manager, Trustworthy Computing

Eve Blakemore is a Group Manager for Trustworthy Computing who delivers consumer guidance around the latest trends in security and privacy. Eve joined Microsoft in 1998 and has worked in corporate and field roles with Microsoft Learning, US Public Sector, Read more »

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    I can say that I've never experienced one of those, knock on wood.  I can imagine that they are horrible, and for the average computer user who knows little about what's going on, God help them.  

  2. Anonymous

    On January 5, 2012 I must have downloaded a trojan than has invaded my computer, rendering it impossible for the system to make lists. What appeared to be a four colored microsoft flag indicated that they could fix 24 errors, but I needed to pay $74.95 to get the premium version to repair the other 8 items. The files from my desktop are still on the computer, but not visible on the desktop. If I search for a folder, I can find it, but it is empty. If I search for a file known to be in said folder, I can find that file. It still contains the name of the folder in its address, but I cannot open the folder and re-insert the file into the folder. Any suggestions?

  3. Anonymous

    I clicked on a popup that appeared to be a reputable web site for a free scan. After the program ran the scan, it claimed to have found 28 errors that needed to be corrected. I clicked on repair. It repaired 4 and said I would have to buy the program to repair the rest. My virus and malware program took care of the problems before they caused damage to my computer.

  4. Anonymous

    Just had what I believe was a scam today. Someone saying you needed to give all your loggin info or else your Hotmail account would be removed. It was someone on Hotmail with an account. I marked it with a Phising Scam, so hopefully that person will get Zapped!!!

  5. Anonymous

    Also, I had one of those Ranson scams I believe. Got the Blue Screen saying my computer is infected, and I needed to purchase a program to get rid of the infection. Almost gave my credit info to purchase it, cause I was stuck. But thought about it, and just turned the computer off and left it off. I don't know what happened, but a week later I turned it back on and got online to update both antivirus and MS program to protect. So I was way to close to making a huge mistake!!!


    That's interesting.  You got lucky I think, for most of these programs don't go away by themselves.  

  7. Anonymous

    Its all to do with user behaviour.   I do feel sorry for honest inocent low end users who get caught by these scams.

    Before you click on any link you should POINT (only)at it, and if you have your Browser Status bar turned on you should see the URL it intends to go to.   If it does not look like what you expect it to you should not click on the link to go there.  Also Pictures, point at them first and check that any URL embedded in them looks OK.

  8. Anonymous

    I had one of these, came up as a semi official looking (microsoft) page announcing i had  a virus and it needed to be  removed, when i clicked on the yes (for do you want it removed) that was it,  it owned me, cost me 50 bucks to the web site to be able to go anywhere or do anything


    So how did you get rid of it?  

  10. Anonymous

    There is a company that says they are working for microsoft, they keep phoning homes in our area. On Saturday they phoned my house and my daughter answered the phone. Because she was having problems with her netbook, she gave them access to her netbook, their website is people ask for payment after installing what they call fixes to your computer.

  11. Anonymous

    How can I protect myself from Ransomware ?

  12. Anonymous

    I had the one claiming to be from the Met.Police Central e-Crime Unit demanding £100 to unlock my computer. I started the computer in "Safe Mode" which enabled me to get to "Control Panel" and then did a "System Restore" to a date just before the event. Then did a full "Security Scan" to eliminate the Ransomware.

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