Gardaí are warning of an online hoax targeting Irish users, which tells them their PC has been locked and charges them up to €100 to remove the infection.
The scam has been operating in several countries in recent months, including the US, Canada, Germany, Finland and the UK.
Once a user’s Windows machine has been infected with a Trojan Horse programme, a pop-up message appears on screen, purporting to be from An Garda Síochána and using the force’s logo and other images to make it appear genuine.
The message tells the user their PC has been locked because of being involved in illegal activity, and requests a fine to unlock the computer.
A spokesperson for An Garda Síochána warned people not to share their bank details or pay out any money. “If your computer becomes infected by this malicious software, all affected computers should be repaired by a reputable repair person,” the spokesperson said.
Anyone who has been tricked into paying the ransom should report the incident to their local garda station.
Europol has has issued a PDF guide with recommendations on how to protect PCs from becoming infected with similar ransomware and other net-borne nasty stuff.
Microsoft has also published advice on how to prevent being infected by this type of malware and on how to manually remove it from systems that have been affected by it.