Sounds of frustration. A fist slamming into a desk. A word not normally heard coming from the other room. Then a huge sigh, a rolling back of a swivel chair. The chair Bill Yates spent hours in on a daily basis. Footsteps approaching. Bill was coming out of his lair before the dinner bell—way before the dinner bell. Something must be wrong, thought Charlene Yates, who was the apple of Bill’s eye.
His six-foot frame filled the doorway of the spare bedroom where Charlene worked on her photos and random bits of fiction, and the only novel she ever completed. Before she had a chance to ask, Bill started in on his tale of woe. There was only one thing that made Bill this upset, it had to be his computer. It had to be something he couldn’t fix, didn’t understand—or worse. Something which demanded he call technical support to come out a.s.a.p., preferably before he had a nuclear meltdown.
“My computer’s crashed. I can’t do anything, go anywhere and there’s a message from Interpol on my screen.” Bill had a look of exasperation on his face, and Charlene knew what she was in for. There were times when she thought he was as addicted to his PC as a user was to crack.
“Interpol? What are earth did you do, Bill?” said Charlene as she looked up from her iMac and turned in his direction. She knew Bill liked to play games, fly to far flung places on his Flight Sim. He even had a DOSBox installed and a five inch floppy drive in order to play an old football game. A bunch of Xs and 0s as far as Charlene was concerned. Certainly there wasn’t invasion of enemy airspace or any sports gambling going on. Certainly not.
“I didn’t do anything, Charlene. Come and look at my screen, I have no access, and I can’t reboot in safe mode. They want money, Charlene. Money. Three hundred dollars to unlock my computer…” Bill Yates was approaching critical mass, not foaming at the mouth or in need of Prozak, at least not yet.
“Who wants money? Charlene didn’t want their budget to take a hit, and certainly there had to be a mistake. Her husband had never been in trouble with the law. Most of the time he was mild-mannered, keeping to himself. He had been reading a lot of James Patterson’s novels lately, but they all dealt with one or more psycho serial killers. Charlene turned her chair and again asked, “Who wants money?”
“The FBI, the Cyber Crime Center, Department of Justice and Interpol. That’s who. Please, just come look,” Bill pleaded. Now Charlene knew that couldn’t possibly be true, but decided to humor her husband and padded, barefoot down the hall and into the bedroom and sat in Bill’s chair.
Had she been less savvy, the following message on the screen would have had her bewildered. Had her drawing money out of their bank account, anything to appease her husband whose PC was being held hostage for a three-hundred dollar ransom.
* * * * * * * * *
Mandiant U.S.A. Cyber Security
Department of Defense
U.S.A. Cyber Crime Center
Your computer has been blocked for safety reasons listed below.
You are accused of viewing/storage and/or dissemination of banned pornography (child pornography/zoophilic/rape etc.). You have violated World Declaration on non-proliferation of child pornography. You are accused of committing the crime envisaged by Article 161 of United States of America criminal law. Article 161 of United States of America criminal law provides for the punishment of deprivation of liberty for terms from 5 to 11 years.
Also, you are suspected of violation of “Copyright and Related rights Law” (downloading of pirated music, video, wares) and of use and/or dissemination of copyrighted content. Thus, you are suspected of violation of Article 148 of United States of America Criminal Law. Article 148 of United States of America criminal law provides for the punishment of deprivation of liberty for terms from 3 to 7 years or 150 to 550 basic amounts fine.
It was from your computer, that unauthorized access had been stolen to information of State importance and to data closed for public Internet access. The penalty set must be paid in course of 48 hours as of the breach. On expiration of the term, 48 hours that follow will be used for automatic collection of data on yourself and your misconduct, and criminal case will be opened against you.
Amount of fine is $300.00 You can settle the fine with MoneyPak or MoneyGram express Packet vouchers.
As soon as the money arrives to the Treasury account, your computer will be unblocked in course of 24 hours. Then in 7 day term you should remedy the breaches associated with your computer. Otherwise your computer will be blocked up again and criminal case will be opened against yourself (with no option to pay fine).
* * * * * * * * *
“You have a virus,” Charlene informed Bill as she stood up and started to walk away. “I’ll Google it and see what you have to do. I know it looks authentic, but don’t do anything rash. Do not pay any money— I’ll be right back.” This was the second time in a week that something strange had popped up on Bill’s PC. First it was the Blaster Worm virus, then this Troj/Urausy Ransomware virus, which was highly infectious.
Bill did the obvious and called a techie, who tried to fix things remotely, but to no avail. It was a company he had used before and trusted them to make his world right again. Which they did . . . for a price.
Charlene went back to her office. She looked at the old photo of herself sitting in her little red wagon with her dog Tippy by her side. She must have been about four years old. The 4X4, black and white photo covered the web camera on her iMac. She smiled. No virus is going to catch me in my bathrobe, she murmured to herself. A week later, Charlene came down with the flu.