JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) – Computer experts said Thursday a new computer virus is making rounds in the Region 8 viewing area. According to Chase Gist at Millennium Three, more than 15 computers have been brought in with the virus, which threatens a lawsuit unless you settle out of court. Millennium Three heard of the virus Sunday and first confirmed it in Region 8 Tuesday.
"This one in particular is coming up and accusing you of a copyright violation," said Gist.
According to Gist, the virus has not yet been tracked. It's unknown how users obtain the virus, but once infected they are unable to use their computer.
"Ransomware is a type of malicious software that gets on your computer that basically holds you computer for ransom. It takes control and doesn't allow you to do anything," said Gist.
The virus works by scanning a computer for files that have copyright protection. Even if the files are downloaded legally, the scanning client will list the file as "evidence". The client will then give the owner two options.
One option allows the user to settle the case in court, but the other option gives users the chance to settle out of court. Once the user clicks the second option, they are asked to submit personal information such as credit card numbers, social security information, etc.
"It analyzes content on your computer and will actually san your hard drive and list things that you have. Types of media that you have whether that's an audio file, a video file, usually something that has some sort of copyright on it and tells you that you're in copyright violation," said Gist. "It was very legitimate. Our own got it. It specifically referenced a file that he got on his computer, which of course he got legitimately, but it was a very interesting thing that it could point that out."
Click here to read more about the virus from Millennium Three.
"It can be gotten in several ways and usually it has something to do with clicking on a link that you shouldn't be clicking on, something that looks to be legitimate but is not," said Gist. "It can be gotten just by surfing a web-site and just being on the internet."
Gist said the best way to avoid unwanted viruses is to have updated anti-virus software installed on your computer.
"People are much more likely to pay attention to this and go, oh, I didn't know; here let me take care of this right away. The fact of the matter is it just doesn't happen that way," said Gist. "No legitimate company is going to hold your computer for ransom. Any legitimate company is not going to say, hey, I have control of your computer unless you give me money. You can't have control of your computer."
"If you get something on your computer that says give me money to use your computer otherwise you can't use your computer, you know that it's a problem, that it's a virus of some type in and of itself," said Gist.