posted on May, 24 2005 @ 12:19 PM
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Computer users already anxious about viruses and identity theft have new reason to worry: Hackers have found a way to lock up the
electronic documents on your computer and then demand $200 over the Internet to get them back.
Security researchers at San Diego-based Websense Inc. uncovered the unusual extortion plot when a corporate customer they would not identify fell
victim to the infection, which encrypted files that included documents, photographs and spreadsheets.
A ransom note left behind included an e-mail address, and the attacker using the address later demanded $200 for the digital keys to unlock the
"You would have to pay the guy, or law enforcement would have to get his key to unencrypt the files," Stewart said.
The latest danger adds to the risks facing beleaguered Internet users, who must increasingly deal with categories of threats that include spyware,
viruses, worms, phishing e-mail fraud and denial of service attacks.
In the recent case, computer users could be infected by viewing a vandalized Web site with vulnerable Internet browser software. The infection locked
up at least 15 types of data files and left behind a note with instructions to send e-mail to a particular address to purchase unlocking keys. In an
e-mail reply, the hacker demanded $200 be wired to an Internet banking account. "I send programm to your email," the hacker wrote.