This article has many words linked to the Bing online English dictionary, to help students of English as a Second Language (ESL).
I just got hit by the MoneyPak computer virus.
I was browsing the web when suddenly the screen went black. Then the desktop background image appeared (no icons or task bar). Then in the centre, a large message. Before I had time to start reading the message, a voice began speaking, saying that my computer had been blocked for illegal activities, and that I had to pay a fine of MXN$2,000 (~USD$160, ~CNY元1,000) to the police!!! I noticed that a small window in the message also showed the icon for my webcam software.
READ THE REST BELOW.
I had heard about this kind of message before, that it was not really from the police but a virus.
So I immediately turned off the computer using the Power button. I did NOT use the Windows shut down procedure, because viruses can use that to embed themselves into the Windows startup process. And I absolutely did not click on the message or pay the "fine".
I rebooted the computer. A list of startup choices was displayed. I chose to start Windows in "Safe Mode with Networking". I started a web browser, searched for "online virus scan" and did a scan from a company that I recognized (Eset, makers of Nod32 anti-virus).
While the scan was running, I did some more research online. I didn't know the name of the virus, but I remembered reading about it. I entered the message "your computer has been blocked" into the search engine, and read a few of the top results.
I found this useful page on removing the virus.
While downloading, I also read this page describing what happens when this virus hits.
law enforcement, e.g. the FBI in the United Sates. It claims you must pay a fine and they will unlock your computer. But it is nothing to do with law enforcement. It is done by criminals. It is a scam, a fraud, ransomware (software that demands a ransom to free your computer)..
More info on ransomware:
The MoneyPak virus is constantly being improved. For example, it adjusts to your location. I live in Mexico, so the message and voice were in Spanish, and the ransom was demanded in pesos. Newer versions of the virus also access your microphone & webcam. My webcam is a little unusual, you have to run a special program to turn it on. That's why the virus showed just the webcam icon, not my face. With an ordinary webcam, the virus would have shown my face, and maybe even sent a picture of me back to the virus makers!
Eventually the Eset virus scan completed and had found 1 dangerous file. I deleted it, then installed Malwarebytes Anti-Malware, and scanned with that. It found 2 more dangerous files. I deleted them. Malwarebytes then told me I had to restart the computer to completely remove the files. I clicked "yes" and the computer shut down and restarted.
Windows restarted normally. (It did not display a list of Safe mode starting options.)
Next I installed Hitman Pro x64 and scanned with that. It didn't find any virus threats, just tracking cookies.
And that's where I am now. I seem to be lucky so far. My computer is working, but I don't know how much information they got from my computer before it was blocked.
This whole episode today makes me want ever more to leave Windows and switch to another operating system like FreeBSD or Linux. (A version of Ubuntu Linux has just been picked to become the government-supported operating system of China.) I've used both those before, the problem is that not all hardware is supported, e.g. the Microsoft USB headset I use for my online classes. Time to research using FreeBSD & Linux again!
In the meantime, I need to try a different anti-virus. I currently use Microsoft Security Essentials, and clearly that did not protect me against this threat.
And PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE if you get a message on your computer telling you to pay a fine... DON'T PAY. That would be giving money to criminals AND it doesn't actually take the virus off your computer. The virus is still there, stealing your information.
G.A.L.E.S.L. / joe3
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