How To Spot & Avoid Cyber Extortion

Suku Nair, chair of the computer science and engineering department at SMU's Bobby B. Lyle School of Engineering, talks about identifying and avoiding cyber extortion.

By Ginger Allen

FORT WORTH (CBS 11 NEWS) - Imagine logging on to your computer and finding all your files frozen. A screen pops up demanding that you pay someone to unlock your computer. It sounds crazy but it’s actually happening to people all over the country.
“All of a sudden this screen came up that said your computer is locked you’ve got to pay a fine,” says Kathy Neary. Neary says someone was threatening to arrest her if she did not pay $200.
Jim McGrath got a similar pop up on his screen. Computer kidnappers wanted $60 to unlock his files.  “I felt I was being scammed,” says McGrath.
Neary and McGrath are victims of cyber extortion – the latest computer crime sweeping the country.
“It is very common. It is rampant right now,” explains Dr. Suku Nair, Chair of Southern Methodist University’s Department of Computer Science and Engineering.
Dr. Nair says at some point, victims of cyber extortion have clicked on an infected website or email. Cyber thieves have unleashed malware on their computers. The messages that pop up may appear to be from a software company saying they have a virus. Or, worse yet, the message may look like it is from law enforcement....

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