Microsoft Uncovers International Ransomware Scam

Dennis Faas's picture

Microsoft has issued a warning about a new form of malware that locks users out of their computers.

Dubbed 'ransomware,' the malicious software demands immediate financial compensation from its victims in order to get their machines working again.

Generally, the scam is presented with a genuine-appearing on-screen message that implies the website they were trying to visit was secretly linked to illicit images of children, and that the user has already been identified as if searching for such material. A different but similar version of the scam suggests that the user has been identified as the recipient of an email "from a terrorist background."

The malicious software then locks up the computer, and asks the user to transfer a specific amount of money via a legitimate online payment service (like Paysafecard or Ukash) to the supposed "authorities" who have "caught" the computer in the "illegal" action.

Once the payment is received, say these "authorities," the computer will be allowed to function normally again.

Of course, this nothing but a swindle, and payment is strongly discouraged.

Police Units Add Sense of Legitimacy

While a demand like this would likely be the first sign that something is amiss, the authors behind the malware have added a sense of legitimacy to their scam by linking the geographical distribution of the virus with their targeted country.

For example, Trojan:Win32/Ransom.DU is a German-language variant of this ransomware, and it accurately impersonates the German Federal Police. (Source:

Keeping Antivirus Software Up-to-Date is Key

It appears, however, that the malware can be defeated.

If users keep their antivirus software up to date, the malware should not be a threat. If, for example, your system happens to become infected with this form of malware, bear in mind that there's no advantage to paying the ransom demanded by those behind it. 

"In the unfortunate case that your computer is infected with this malware, don't even consider paying," said Microsoft's Horea Coroiu. "If you do so, your computer will not get unlocked anyway, so paying does not actually solve your computer problem." (Source:

Rate this article: 
No votes yet