Fake FBI Site Targets Porn Viewers, 'Locks' Browsers

Jul 18, 2013 1:30 PM PST

CYBERSPACE — A new online scam targets porn viewers by freezing victims' screens and redirecting them to an FBI impostor site that demands $300, Malwarebytes security researcher Jerome Segura discovered.

Once redirected, the computer becomes “locked,” preventing browser closure using conventional methods — unless the fee is paid.

Segura said that what he described as “ransomware” has some unique properties, like compatibility with several major browsers and all computer platforms, including Macs. Mobile devices, however, are immune to the cyber attack.

Segura noted that the scam is not technically ransomware because it is not a type of malware, which operates by infecting the entire computer and requires downloading. This, he said, lives only on the browser and is much easier to remove than Malware.   

Many people reported that they were afflicted by the virus when they were searching for porn, but others came across it while looking for nonsexual illegal downloads; Segura happened upon it when he searched for Taylor Swift on Bing.  

The website, designed to mimic an official FBI page, demands compensation for the users’ infractions — distributing porn or downloading illegal content. Segura says the scare-tactic is effective because most people engage in such activities at least once.

The fraudulent site gives the instructions: "To unlock your computer and to avoid other legal consequences, you are obligated to pay a release fee of $300." If an attempt is made to close the browser, a pop-up appears reiterating threats of criminal procedures against the victim.

While the malicious URL contains “fbi.gov,” it ends in “.com,” revealing its non-governmental origins.

Tech News Daily said that the best way to remove the block without paying the money was to reset the browser through its settings options.

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