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Computer Hijacking
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This may sound like science fiction but the threat is real. Criminals have the ability if you unwittingly let them to take control of your computer.

Criminals look to hijack computers for 2 main reasons:

• They want to try to extort money out of you by scaring you - known as Ransomware.
• They want to add your computer into a ring of others they have hijacked. - known as a Botnet.

 

Ransomware

This is an especially cunning method of trying to get money from you!

The con usually works along these lines. A pop up message or website page appears on your computer claiming a variant along the lines of:

• You have been caught downloading illegal material – pornography, copyrighted files etc.
• Your computer is infected with viruses, malware, spyware etc.

At this point you computer may appear to be locked out to you and won’t respond to some or all of your commands.

The con artist may try and fool you that they are a relevant Government office, a legitimate company like Microsoft or even the police!

They are trying to scare you and convince you that even though you may have not known of it you have done something unlawful.

They will try and con you into paying an online fine or for the problem with the computer to be ‘fixed.’

DO NOT HAND OVER ANY FORM OF PAYMENT.

If you have anti-virus software run it. If it doesn’t locate or fix the problem you will need to have a local specialist clean the machine for you.

Botnets

Millions of computers are hijacked every year. Don’t beat yourself up and blame yourself if this happens to you!

You are the victim of a large scale criminal activity. If your computer is hijacked by such a gang it may be sending out spam email etc without you even knowing.

How do you know if your computer has been taken over?

• Your fan kicks into overdrive when your computer is idle.
• Your computer takes a long time to shut down, or won’t shut down properly.
• You see a list of outbound Wall posts you didn’t send on your Facebook page.
• Programs run very slowly.
• You cannot download operating system updates.
• You cannot download antivirus software updates / visit their websites.
• Internet access slows to a crawl.
• Your friends and family have received e-mail message from you that you did not send.
• You get pop-up windows and advertisements appear even when you aren’t on the web.
• Windows Task manager shows programs with very cryptic names or descriptions.

You may not get all of these systems but if you start experiencing any of these go to the Microsoft main website and download and run the Malicious Software Removal Tool –

See http://www.microsoft.com/en-gb/security/pc-security/malware-removal.aspx.

If you still are having problems after running the tool you will need to get your computer assessed by a local specialist.

 
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