Fresh from the BBC comes news of an extremely effective, if outrageously illegitimate, deterrent to some species of copyright infringement. In "Porn virus publishes web history of victims on the net" it is reported that a new type of malware has been developed which infects PCs using file-share sites and publishes the user's net history on a public website before demanding a fee for its removal. The article continues, in relevant part:
"The Japanese trojan virus installs itself on computers using a popular file-share service called Winni [which may be on its way to being a little less popular ... nb Wikipedia corrects the spelling to Winny], used by up to 200m people. It targets those downloading illegal copies of games in the Hentai genre, an explicit form of anime.
Website Yomiuri claims that 5,500 people have so far admitted to being infected [Merpel speculates as to how the infection spreads from computers to people ...]. The virus, known as Kenzero, ... [m]asquerading as a game installation screen, ... requests the PC owner's personal details. It then takes screengrabs of the user's web history and publishes it online in their name, before sending an email or pop-up screen demanding a credit card payment of 1,500 yen (£10) to "settle your violation of copyright law" and remove the webpage.
The website that the history is published on is owned by a shell company called Romancing Inc. It is registered to a fictitious individual called Shoen Overns. ... Kenzero is a twist on ransomware,... which infects a computer and encrypts the documents, pictures and music stored on it, before demanding a fee for a decryption key. ...
A fictitious organization calling itself the ICPP copyright foundation issues threatening pop-ups and letters after a virus searches the computer hard drive for illegal content - regardless of whether it actually finds anything.
It offers a "pretrial settlement" fine of $400 (£258) payable by credit card, and warns of costly court cases and even jail sentences if the victim ignores the notice.
However rather than take the money, the outfit sells on the credit card details, said Mr Ferguson.
"If you find you are getting pop-ups demanding payments to settle copyright infringement lawsuits, ignore them and use a free online anti-malware scanner immediately to check for malware," was his advice.
"And if there's online content that you want to get hold of, get it from a reputable website - if that means paying that's what you have to do."The IPKat finds it strange that the protection of copyright and the cultivation of good habits of software use should be easier to achieve through extortion threats from a criminal organisation than through normal forms of monitoring and enforcement. Merpel says, I wonder what the public's reaction would be if the virus and the threats came not from a gang of crooks but from an organisation representing legitimate software owners.