A computer virus might be more menacing than you think
You might be wondering whether malware can really cause death. Despite how exaggerating such assumption may seem, unfortunately, it may indeed contribute to it. It seems that quite recently Internet was only accessible to a small number of people. However, with it infiltrating more our daily life spheres, its importance is gaining more relevance.
We are getting surrounded by numerous Internet-connected devices, be it children toys, smart door lock or a smart watch. Furthermore, Wi-Fi supported systems are everywhere: in train stations, parking lots, supermarkets, and hospitals. Unfortunately, depending on a digital system also boosts the chances of virtual attacks.
The cases of WannaCry, which wreaked global havoc, and Locky revealed that malware increasingly targets hospitals. Several emergencies forced them to evacuate patients or delay planned operations. Moreover, incidents when the suspected cause of a plane crash leads to virtual threat also serve as the wake-up call. It's not about your data confidentiality and cyber privacy, now a virtual infection targets a much more valuable entity – your life.
Malware-caused incidents are no longer science fiction
More than one year ago, a Romanian man, Marcel Datcu, killed his son and himself after discovering a FAKE warning on his computer’s desktop. The corrupt warning claimed that FBI noticed him while he was visiting a pornographic website and now he has to pay a fine of 70.000 lei (equal to more than 18.000 euros) to avoid getting into jail for 11 years.
A victim decided to take the harsh way to avoid the punishment invented by ransomware owners. Before taking his son’s and his own life, he wrote a suicide note. It told that he cannot go to jail for 11 years and leave his son to suffer alone.
Unfortunately, this is not the only death caused by malware. There are quite many cases illustrating the capabilities of cyber criminals be when they seek to take the money from their victims. After infecting PC systems, they employ intimidating notifications trying to convince their victims that they are dealing with governmental authorities or other parties that can’t be ignored.
If a victim is not tech-savvy to tell which warning message is real and which one belongs to cyber criminals, he or she may decide to take his/hers own life or may simply die after the heart attack.
Credulous netizens remain an easy target for scammers
One of such victims is Corrie Santayana (the name was changed and is known for the editorial board), who was swept into serious malvertising campaign relying on a Blue Screen of Death. Blue Screen of Death (or BSOD) is a social engineering technique used to show desired content (notifications, banners, and pop-up ads) while people are browsing on the Internet.
While some of the victims can easily ignore the message as the fake one, others can be convinced that they need to follow specific commands to save themselves. Corrie thought “Windows Health is Critical! Do not restart! Please contact Microsoft technicians” was a genuine one. After calling to hackers, he was told that he needs to purchase a special support package that costs $1000.
The man didn’t wait for long and made a bank transfer to pay for non-existent and costly “software package”. To his disappointment, he found about the scam only a couple of hours later. After his son had told him that he was deceived, the man died in his living room because of the heart attack.
Cyber security tips to avoid disastrous consequences
Security experts warn people that there are hundreds of different techniques exploited by hackers. If you want to protect yourself and people around you (your parents, children, and other family members), keep in mind the following tips”
- if you get a system alert, look for phone numbers or email addresses – if it does have one, it'a scam
- protect the operating system with the combination of an anti-virus and malware elimination tools; update them regularly
- use a VPN to secure the Internet connection in smart devices
- do not rush to open any attachments supposedly received from official institutions without verifying the identity of a sender; the same applies to phone calls
Besides digital assistants guarding your PC and data, remain vigilant. Rational thinking and cautiousness are powerful weapons in fighting modern scams and online frauds.