Blackmail virus infects computers, holds information ransom

By Josh Harvison - bio | email

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) – A new computer virus is sending more computers to repair shops. According to Millenium 3 in Jonesboro, the Kenzero virus infects computers after downloaded from a peer-to-peer file sharing web-site. Once the virus infects a computer, it then searches for personal information and threatens to publish the content online.

"Basically a blackmail type of ransomware that wants to hold your personal information hostage and then have you pay for it," said Corey Lemieux with Millenium 3.

Lemieux said over the last month, more computers have been coming into the store with the virus. Many users get the virus after downloading illegal copies of music or movies, Lemieux said.

"Even when you pay for it, it's probably going to steal your credit card information so there's no real good way to deal with things like this," said Lemieux. "It disguises itself as some type of registration or another program with whatever you downloaded, and then once it's on your computer and you've allowed it there, it's going to start to run and start to look at everything you've been doing."

According to various web-sites, the Kenzero virus began as a Trojan that attacked computers of people who were viewing pornographic materials. It was first reported in April, but Lemieux said computers across northeast Arkansas are now being infected.

"It threatens to post all of the information that it's collected while it's been on your computer. send it out to your contacts, post it on a web-site, if it's been on your computer long enough, then it can take over your Facebook account and it could take over your Facebook account and post everything to your main page," said Lemieux. "If you're doing something you're not supposed to be doing, this can be a real threat; you wouldn't want to tell anybody about it. So this is definitely something to be worried about."

Lemieux said there are ways to avoid infection.

"The best thing to do is to keep your anti-virus up to date, and don't download anything you're not 100-percent sure about. or do a little bit of research and have a firewall, a router or something coming off of your modem, then that'll really help," said Lemieux.

©2010 KAIT All rights reserved.