Valdosta Daily Times

Local News

August 30, 2013

Police issue cyber warning

‘FBI’ online ruse can cripple computer

VALDOSTA — With so many Internet scams and viruses in circulation, still one would not expect an attack on the computer of the Valdosta police chief.

VPD Chief Brian Childress said when he arrived at his office Thursday morning, an email he had opened the previous night apparently contained a virus that had taken over his computer.

“My screen said, ‘Your computer has been seized by the FBI’s Cyber Crime Unit.’ It contained instructions on where to send money to have my screen unlocked. Our IT department couldn’t get it unlocked and had to reload my computer,” Childress said.

Later in the morning, Childress said a Valdosta State University student came into the VPD, scared, because she received the same message.

“All you can do is take it to a computer technician or reload it yourself,” he said. “But the FBI has warnings out on these viruses, and don’t ever send money to someone if you get a message like this. It’s a scam.”

Childress was the victim of “ransomware,” software that encrypts a user’s hard drive and demands payment in order to decrypt it, effectively kidnapping or hijacking the computer. The software is typically downloaded onto a computer via an email attachment, but there are other ways it can infect your computer.

“The FBI says to not open any attachment you receive if you don’t know who it’s from. Delete it immediately,” said Childress.

Ransomware can also be loaded onto your computer when you browse popular websites, according to the FBI’s website on email scams.

“Once the web browser is exploited, the victim’s computer displays a pop-up warning that appears to be from the FBI. Cyber criminals use ‘FBI.gov’ within the URL to make the warning appear more legitimate,” the website warning states.

Even if victims pay the “fine,” it will not unlock the computer. The FBI instructions for removing the warning page and unlocking the screen are “by clicking on the Safari menu and choosing the ‘Reset Safari,’ option, making sure all check boxes are selected. You may also hold down the shift key while relaunching Safari, which will prevent Safari from reopening windows and tabs from the previous session. Victims can also disable the reopening feature across OS X from the general pane of system preferences.”

The FBI considers these types of scams as attempts to extort money, and requests that anyone who receives this type of email forward it to the Federal Trade Commission at spam@uce.gov and also, to file a complaint at www.IC3.gov.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • EOM July 2014.jpg Sgt. Jonathan Yeargin Honored as July 2014 Employee of the Month

    Valdosta Mayor John Gayle and Fire Chief Freddie Broome honored Jonathan Yeargin as the July 2014 Employee of the Month at the July 10 City Council meeting.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Clay Griner.jpeg Griner wins Lowndes commission runoff

    A long nine-week runoff election between Clay Griner and G. Norman Bennett came to an end Tuesday night with Griner beating Bennett by 1,060 votes, with approximately 70 provisional ballots left to count.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • 20140722-Runoff_Voting003.jpg State Senate District 8 too close to call

    The race for State Senate District 8 appeared too close to call as of The Times print deadline late Tuesday night.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Senate Georgia_Stew.jpg Perdue defeats Kingston in Georgia Senate runoff

    Businessman David Perdue has defeated longtime Rep. Jack Kingston in the Republican runoff for Georgia’s U.S. Senate nomination, setting up a matchup against Democratic nominee Michelle Nunn that will help determine which party controls the Senate for the final years of the Obama administration.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • County OKs $1.6 million for water-treatment equipment

    By a divided vote, the Lowndes County Commission approved spending $1,638,000 to purchase two pieces of equipment to improve the county’s water quality as per an agreement with the federal Environmental Protection Agency.

    July 23, 2014

  • Baytree Animal Hospital LB copy.JPG Animal hospital named Business of the Week

    Baytree Animal Hospital was named Leading Business of the Week by the  Valdosta-Lowndes Chamber of Commerce for July 14.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Gavel-courtroom.jpg Water treatment plant discussed

    The Lowndes County Board of Commissioners discussed purchasing two pieces of equipment for the Alapaha Water Treatment Plant and the Spring Creek System for a total of $1,638,000 during its Monday work session and is expected to vote on the issue tonight.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • education.jpg Charter school petition denied

    Both the Valdosta City and Lowndes County school boards unanimously denied the joint charter petition from Scintilla Charter Academy during their respective meetings Monday evening.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • echols_alapapa.jpg WWALS gets grant from river network

    The Willacoochee, Withlacoochee, Alapaha, and Little River Systems Watershed Coalition, Inc. (WWALS) received a $500 Alapaha Water Trail Grant from the Georgia River Network

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • 140718-ARJim2.jpg Teacher at home anywhere in the world

    Variety is the spice of life. South Georgia is home to a diverse group of people, each with a unique life story. One man with glorious tales of travel and selfless volunteer work is Jim Kokoruda.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

Top News
Poll

School starts again in about two weeks. What do you think?

It's still summer. School starts too soon.
Seems like the right time to return.
Abolish summer recess. Make school year-round.
     View Results