TORONTO — A new Internet scam circulating in Japan is among the latest ploys by cyberthieves to extort cash from unsuspecting web users.
The Kenzero virus originates from a Japanese downloading site and is embedded in a file that’s posing as an adult video game, says Internet security company Trend Micro.
Users are prompted to enter their personal information before the game installs but meanwhile, the virus is actually scanning their computer for data. Soon, they receive an email linking to a website where they’re told to pay up or have their name posted on a public list of people who bought the raunchy game.
“It’s probably scaring a few people and if you tell them, ’Pay that much and you’ll be off the list,’ some people will actually do that,” said Jerome Segura, a security analyst with the Victoria-based security company ParetoLogic.
The scam falls within a subcategory of viruses called ransomware.
One virus adds pornographic icons to a user’s desktop and when they try to delete them, they’re presented with a pop-up window with a legitimate-looking ad to purchase anti virus software. Users who take the bait lose their money and may subsequently have their credit card information sold on the black market.
Another emerging virus is hidden within music or movie downloads and produces prompts that accuse the user of copyright infringement and demands payment for the offence. Sometimes the user’s desktop background is changed to the FBI logo along with a serious-sounding threat for greater effect, Segura said.
Having anti virus software does not necessarily make users immune to the latest ransomware scams and other viruses, Segura warned.