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Posted 2/21/18 (Wed)

By Neal A. Shipman
Farmer Editor

Imagine sitting down at your computer and browsing on the Internet for a great recipe and all of a sudden your computer screen takes on a life of its own.
Instead of seeing that marvelous recipe for the supper you were planning, your web browser locks up with a very ominous warning flashing across your screen that malicious content has been detected and, therefore, personal information (logins, passwords, banking details, etc.) is at risk. It is also stated that the malware must be eliminated immediately by contacting ‘certified technicians’ at a special telephone number.
You seemingly can’t exit the computer screen. And worse, now a voice comes over your computer speaker telling you not to shut off your computer. And as you read further into the alert and listen to the message blaring over your computer speakers, you learn that if you don’t call that number within five minutes, your computer will be locked and you will lose valuable information.
You are in a panic. You don’t want to lose your credit card or other personal information. What would you do? Would you call the number and have them fix the problem?
If you did, you just fell victim to one of the more popular web scams currently operating across the Internet. None of the information on your computer was in danger of being compromised. What the scammers wanted was your credit card information so they could run up as many charges as they could before the account was closed. Or they were hoping your credit card information would help them steal your identity. Or even worse, these scammers will allow you to give them remote access to your computer where they will install programs that actually allow them to steal all of your personal information.
The process of getting rid of the fake warning, as well as removing any latent tracking information that was installed on your computer, is relatively simple with free malware software.
A second ransomware that is making its way across the Internet recently has been the Rapid Ransomware plaguing unsuspecting people is a malspam that pretends to be from the Internal Revenue Service.
This malspam campaign is being sent with email subjects like “Please Note - IRS Urgent Message-164” and state that the recipient is behind in real estate taxes. It then goes on to tell the recipient to open the attachment to see a compiled report on how much is owed.
Once again, to the unsuspecting email recipient who opens the attachment, their problems begin with them then being hit with numerous ransom notes telling them to contact an email address to receive payment instructions.
The problem continues as the Rapid Ransomware will configure itself to start every time you login to the computer.
Unfortunately for people that have been hit with the Rapid Ransomware, there are no free ways to decrypt the files that the ransomware has created.
So be warned. If you are not familiar with a website, it may be best to not go there. And more importantly, if you receive an email from the IRS or other federal agency that you haven’t requested, don’t open it.
Just as not everything that you read on the Internet is true, not all websites are reputable. And not all emails should be opened.