Wednesday, August 18th, 2010
The fight against internet threats seems to have taken a turn for the worse with increasing reports of internet users being intentionally infected with malware and then later being mysteriously contacted and blackmailed to remove the offending malware if a fee is paid.

While malicious attacks on computer software are far from new, with millions of attacks per day reported worldwide, the addition of a follow up email or phone call with a mysterious offer to remove the offending material takes the threat to a new level.

“The reports we have received from clients point to a concerted campaign to infect computers, but the offer to remove these infections means that infected machines are being tracked and contact details for the victims are being obtained. This possibly occurs through key logging software placed onto the computer or by searches performed on the computer’s registration system,” reports Nick Roche, the head of Computer Troubleshooters in Australia.

“We believe the method of infection is through email spam offers, which entice the user to inadvertently download the malware, generally through clicking on an embedded link in the email. In itself, this is not a new technique; however we now believe the initiators are also getting hold of the user’s contact details for following up later.”

The symptoms of the attack are similar to a regular virus or spyware attack, with a slow deterioration in the system performance in the computer over time and the occasional message pop up. However clients have reported that the mysterious caller is able to quickly identify the symptoms affecting the PC. One Computer Troubleshooter reported that his client told him, “They felt like they knew more about my computer than me. I was shocked that they seemed to know the troubles I was experiencing which were only recent.”

The extent of the malicious blackmail is unknown, as is the number of people who have paid the blackmailer’s fee and had the malware removed. However, people are warned that although their computer may appear to return to normal, not all of the rogue software may be removed, leaving the possibility of the threat being reactivated at a later date.

“When clients have called us, we have managed to remove all traces of the malware and get the computer operating normally again. We do extensive scanning and checking of the system to make sure that no malware is left in the system,” said Roche

Lloyd Borrett, Security Evangelist at AVG (AU/NZ) Pty Ltd, has the following advice to help prevent your exposure to Cyber Blackmail:
- Never click on links in emails when you do not know the email’s sender;
- Always have your firewall turned on;
- Always have active Internet Security software protection against viruses and spyware, particularly software that can scan web links such as the free AVG LinkScanner® safe search and surf product
- Use spam filtering software to help limit both the amount of unwanted email and reduce the associated risk;
- Call a computer professional if you are experiencing a decline in your system performance, before you lose important information or your system crashes;
- If you get a mysterious call offering to remove software or a pop-up message offering to sell you software to remove spyware, it is likely you are already infected so call a local computer professional;
- When dealing with a computer professional make sure that you know their background and the reputation of their brand. Beware of cash deals and cheap software.

Today’s cyber criminals know that the easiest way to extort money is by getting access to your computer and then getting your bank details with your permission, usually by posing as an expert on a subject you may know little about. These ‘trust scams’ are the latest threat that you must become vigilant against. Always be cautious about what you give people permission to do on your computer and who you hand your credit card number over to. Like any purchasing decision, think about it and be wary of unsolicited offers of help.

Contact Profile

Computer Troubleshooters Australia

Founded in Australia in 1997, Computer Troubleshooters’ unique business model stresses friendly, personal service from a network of independent, local franchisees. With over 480 locations worldwide, Computer Troubleshooters is the world’s largest computer service franchise.

Computer Troubleshooters is Australia’s largest IT service franchise with over 90 franchises in all states of Australia. Computer Troubleshooters specialise in the setup, maintenance, repair and service of small Business and home office IT networks.

Our Credentials

2010 BRW Fast Franchise – listed for outlet growth

First listed in 2006 by BRW Magazine (issue January 2006) as the Number 10 franchise in Australia – for growth and earnings and as the Number 1 export franchise in Australia.

Chosen as the Number 1 Technical Support Franchise by USA Entrepreneur magazine in 2002, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2010

Nick Roche
P: 1300 28 28 78
M: 0412 404060


malware, cyber blackmail, computer repairs,



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