Ransomware attacks are a huge problem. Cybercriminals infect a computer or network with a virus that locks up all your data unless you pay the ransom. The only issue is these are scammers and you can’t trust them.
You could pay them, but that doesn’t mean they will actually unlock your files. Another problem with paying them is that you are funding their criminal enterprise. If you keep regular backups, you can tell them to pound sand, then restore your machine.
But now, these scammers are upping the ante and sending a life-threatening warning.
Pay up or die
This kind of ransom scam is a whole lot scarier. Here’s how it works. You receive an email with a subject like “Please read this, it can be the most important information in your life.”
That’s not an everyday type subject line you receive, so you click it. And inside you find a very odd message. It’s a hitman who has been hired to kill you. But of course, he doesn’t want to kill you as long as you pay him 0.5 Bitcoin (~$8,600 at today’s rate).
Most people would be shaking after reading this.
(Image: Ransom email example. Source: Naked Security)
So far the scammer has not been successful. The included Bitcoin address can be looked up online and it shows zero transactions, meaning no one who received this particular email has paid up. But it’s not known if there are multiple Bitcoin addresses being sent out.
What you can do
Well, I would hope you would see this as pretty outlandish. So don’t reply to the message, print it off, and mark it as spam.
Now with the nature of this message, we are talking about life or death. If you feel uncomfortable, making a police report is a safe way to go. Bring a copy of the message down to the nearest station or call your local non-emergency number.
5 clever holiday scams you need to know about
The holidays are a time for family, giving, celebrations, shopping, and, unfortunately, an uptick in scams. Here are five scams that are heating up for the holidays and how to avoid falling for them.