Ransomware Scams

July 5, 2016

Have you ever received a suspicious message in your email inbox?  You may have been a potential victim of a malware scam.

“Malware” (malicious software) scams involve deceiving a computer user into installing software which allows scammers to access your files and track what you are doing. Ransomware is a type of Malware and these attacks are the latest in cyber scams on the web. In 2015, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission received 45,000 complaints and estimated about $45 million has been paid to scammers.

There are a number of ways in which scammers can deceive you into downloading Malware such as:

  • Sending emails and/or social media messages with links to videos on something topical. The website will look like the “real deal” but in order to view the video, you will be asked to install some software to access it. If this software is downloaded, your computer will be infected; or
  • Websites and pop-ups that offer ‘free’ file downloads including music, movies and games, or free to access content.

This year, there has been a rise in emails claiming to be from Australia Post about an “undeliverable package” which asks recipients to print an attached “shipment confirmation” and bring it into an AusPost store, along with ID, to collect a parcel. Once the attached document is downloaded and opened, ransomware infects the recipient’s computer.[1]

Ransomware is a type of malware which either blocks or limits access within your database, and demands a ransom be paid to the scammer for them to be ‘unlocked’.

The demands may come in different forms:

  • Claims to be from the police demanding a fine for an illegal activity they say you have committed; or
  • Demands for payment for a ‘key’ to unlock your computer.

Once the ransom is paid, there is no guarantee your computer will be unlocked.

Protect Yourself

  1. Use reputable antivirus software and a firewall
  2. Back up your system regularly
  3. Enable your popup blocker
  4. Exercise caution – don’t click on links inside emails and avoid suspicious websites
  5. If you receive an email purporting to be from a well-known company, call the company itself before opening any attachments or clicking any links.
  6. Disconnect from the internet if you receive a ransomware note so your personal data isn’t transmitted back to the criminals. Simply shut down your computer immediately and consult a professional.[2]

For more Information visit: https://www.scamwatch.gov.au/types-of-scams/threats-extortion/malware-ransomware

If you have been a victim of a malware scam and require some information about how to make a complaint to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, please call us on 9870 9870.


[1] http://www.smh.com.au/technology/consumer-security/locky-ransomware-scam-hits-tens-of-thousands-of-australian-computers-20160309-gnf82e.html

[2] https://usa.kaspersky.com/internet-security-center/threats/ransomware-threats-an-in-depth-guide#.VyhNZ_l94dU

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