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Monday, November 25, 2013

Fastest-growing Internet virus ransoms computers

Terry Dent was certain that it was a scam the moment she read the warning message on her computer.

She knew she hadn’t downloaded any child pornography, this 57-year-old widow acknowledge that she is not the most computer- literate woman in the world but she is quite sure she hadn’t done any mistake. If in any case that she did, she knew the FBI wouldn’t be asking her to use a prepaid credit card to pay a $300 fine to unfreeze her computer.

“I’m not stupid,” she said. “I wasn’t going to send anyone anything.”

But the thing is other people do and will keep doing it.

According to computer security and identity theft experts, Dent’s computer was infected with a version of the Reveton virus. The virus is a popular form of “ransomware” that takes over a computer and prevents users from operating it, supposedly until they pay a fee.

The truth is the law enforcement is not involved although a lot of versions of the virus tell people their computers have been flagged by the Department of Justice or FBI.

Ransomware is rapidly being popular virus for con artists. A computer-security software firm McAfee, catalogued more ransomware in the first half of 2013 than in all previous periods combined. And according to Symantec Corporation – the software company behind the Norton AntiVirus programs – Reveton attempted to infect 500,000 computers over an 18-day period last year.

“It is absolutely the fastest-growing threat to computer users,” said Marian Merritt, a Symantec spokeswoman.

Experts persuade victims not to pay the ransom and they will convince them instead that they should take their computers to information-technology professionals to have the viruses removed.

“Paying the fine will only be providing criminals with a credit card number,” said Robert Siciliano, an online security expert with McAfee.

“Often the criminal will still not keep their end of the bargain and will just continue to ask for more money,” added Eva Velasquez, CEO and president of the Identity Theft Resource Center.

Although Dent wasn’t defrauded with any amount of money, her experience with the virus traumatized her. The virus turned on her web camera and snapped a picture of her at her computer to make it look like she was under investigation by the federal government.

“You could see my whole living room,” said Dent, a former sales clerk who was scared by the incident and didn’t even know how to turn on her web camera at the time. “You could see my door was open. You could see everything.”
Dent contacted Norfolk police and said she spoke with officers for more than an hour, but a police spokeswoman said no report was filed.

Dent said she paid a man $135 to fix her computer. She rarely uses it now, however, because she is afraid of getting hacked again.

“I probably have 800 emails sitting on there,” she said. “I don’t even bother anymore.”

And what she did to the webcam is she put a piece of electrical tape over it, just to be safe.

“Ransomware” takes over a computer and prevents users from operating it, supposedly until they pay a fee. Experts urge victims not to pay the ransom but to have information-technology professionals remove the viruses.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Grand Theft Auto V Wins Game of the Year by Abney and Associates

Grand Theft Auto V has taken top prize at the annual Golden Joystick Awards.

Held this year in central London, the Rock Star North’s record-breaking title won Game of the Year at the annual awards.

A target date in the gaming industry’s calendar, the Golden Joystick Awards celebrate the best video-gaming creations of the past 12 months.

GTA V is the best ever selling video game title of all time and is forecasted to sell 25 million copies in the coming year.

A “masterpiece” it is. Games website IGN called is called one and this is one of the greatest video games ever made.

The setting is the fictional city of San Andreas, GTA V’s mission-led gameplay has gathered talk wildly reviews from fans worldwide, but critic says the game glorifies violence, torture and crime.

GTA V’s release last month saw chaotic scenes across the UK as avid fans queued up to get a copy of the fifth installment of the series while costing an estimated £170m to make and market.

Apparently, a 23-year-old man in north London was stabbed and robbed of his copy minutes after it went on sale.

And three teenagers have been charged regarding the incident.

The GTA series has moved around 150 million copies from the time when it started in 1997.

Nevertheless, the creators of GTA V were forced to make an apology at the start of October after the launch of the game’s online multiplayer mode was overwhelmed with problems.

Countless protested of the game deteriorating to load, at the same time as others were frequently disconnected once they managed to log on to the online platform. The issues were afterward fixed.

Other winners on the night naming cult shooter Call Of Duty picking up a Hall of Fame award, Naughty Dog’s The Last Of Us winning Best Newcomer and Best Storytelling and BioShock creator Kevin Levine taking home the inaugural Lifetime Achievement award.

Levine said it’s an exciting time for the video game industry.

“The great thing about the still-maturing nature of video games is you get to be inspired by the work of novices and veterans alike,” he said.

“We’re all figuring out day by day exactly what the medium is capable of.”