Scammers are cashing in on publicity about online breaches of copyright, issuing fake warnings to users of BitTorrent with demands for money.
BitTorrent is a common file-sharing application and has been cited by copyright holders as a major means of illicit downloading.
The scammers apparently scan the user’s hard drive for .torrent files. If any are detected, the user receives a pop-up message saying “Warning! Piracy detected!”. The malware opens a web page purportedly run by a Swiss company “committed to promoting the cultural and economic benefits of copyright”.
The fake company, the ICCP Foundation, also claims to be backed by the Recording Industry Association of America, the Motion Picture Association of America and others. Victims are warned of possible imprisonment and fines, and given the option of “settling” the “case” for a one-time payment of $US400, by credit card.
Bot Trojan disables PC
A new Trojan related to botnets leaves the infected user’s PC unable to boot and therefore inoperable.
Phishing Trojans usually just steal passwords and other data, but the Zbot Trojan also wipes out key files on the hard drive, so the computer can’t start up.
It’s thought this is a new diversionary tactic by the botnet operators, as the user tends to focus on why their computer isn’t working, instead of tackling the issue of possible identity theft. By the time they realise this, the important information is gone, and may have already been used to drain bank accounts or access confidential information.
A tech-savvy user may be able to reboot the PC from a boot disc and find the malware on the hard drive, but for most people, professional help is required.