Hijacking computers pays! In a technique dubbed “ransomware”,

computer criminals generally send spam emails to try to trick unsuspecting users into buying “products” or warning them of the need to “update” their account information.

But now, the FBI  has a warning against new software programs they call “rogueware.” These clever thieves claim that their program will find viruses on your computer and then they offer you the option to “clean” your computer for only $50. So far, internet users have paid approximately $150 million for such scams.

PC criminals are finding new ways to get unsuspected users to pay up and they’re not trying to hide it much anymore either. They often make claims using messages in their programs that say something like, “Google recommends that you install this…” or “Microsoft warns that you should allow this feature be turned on”, then suddenly they make it look like your computer is infected with 500 viruses. Next thing you know, you can’t access your information because the criminal(s) encrypted it and now they demand that you pay them a ransom for your information and promise to “release” your information so you have access to it again.

There are a few things you can do to protect yourself if you determine that your computer may be infected. Read the tips at MSNBC

Written by Bob Sullivan; Edited by Bill Sorensen