Thursday, January 24, 2013
THE ROOT OF ALL (FBI VIRUS) EVIL
Some of you may recall a fairly recent article on the FBI virus. This virus locks your computer and displays a message that says the FBI is aware that your computer has been used for some “illegal activities.” The virus then demands that you pay an outrageous fine or risk prosecution. You either pay the fine (which, unsurprisingly, doesn’t unlock your computer) or pay someone like me to set your computer free.
I’ve long wondered where my clients were getting this infection. We are still seeing 5 or 6 cases per week at the shop. My interest was piqued recently when newswires were abuzz about an “exploit” that was found in Java software. Java is a bit of software made by Oracle that is essentially a miniature operating system within your operating system (such as Windows) and in internet browsers on Windows and Mac computers. If you’ve ever played the popular web-based game “Words With Friends” or been on “Pogo” on the popular website Yahoo.com, you’ve seen Java in action.
Java is not a native part of Windows so it has to be installed as an add-on to your computer’s internet browser. There is a separate Java add-on for Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome and Safari (the browser used on Macs). All of these are susceptible to the exploit I’m about to tell you about.
Okay, now that you know everything you ever need to know about Java, let me tell you why you should avoid it if you can -- and why you probably can. Headlines around the world warned users that up to 850 million computers were at risk from a crimeware program that was discovered on the black market. It seems that thieves can purchase this program for about $5000, insert it into their own websites, or even hack legitimate websites, and insert their illegitimate code. Then along comes an unsuspecting website visitor and BAM! they get a scary message from “The FBI.”
The headlines were just a bit sensationalized. The risk of getting this virus is minimal for any given user but is a problem for society as a whole and especially businesses with many computers. The FBI infection is just the tip of the iceberg. There are many ways to utilize this crimeware to pilfer money from innocents.
To disable Java on your computer, follow the steps in this article from Zdnet