New ransomware uses webcam and Homeland Security threat to scare victims

A new ransomware infection scares its victims by invoking the name of the Department of Homeland Security, and the National Cyber Security Division – and frightens users further by posting a webcam picture of themselves in a pop-up window as it demands money.

The warning was issued by the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team. The malware has been detected in the wild, US-CERT says, saying that users report a message claiming that use of their computer has been suspended, and that they must pay a fine to unblock it.

One version of the malware also takes a webcam picture of the victim and posts that image in a pop-up “to add to the appearance of legitimacy,” US-CERT says.

“The ransomware falsely claims to be from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the National Cyber Security Division,” US-CERT says. “Users who are infected with the malware should consult with a reputable security expert to assist in removing the malware, or perform a clean reinstallation of their OS after formatting their computer’s hard drive.”

US-CERT advises affected users to report the incident to the FBI at the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3).

Earlier this summer, a similar “ransomware” attack was discovered in Europe, which attempted to scare victims into paying up by using the name of Britain’s SOCA crime unit – the Serious Organized Crime Agency – an organization dealing with drugs, people smuggling, human trafficking, major gun crime, fraud and computer crime.

The scam is currently a common one. Several WeLiveSecurity stories relating to recent “ransomware” can be found here. An in-depth analysis of a malware campaign – the Home Campaign – which infects users with ransomware can be found here.

ESET Security Evangelist Stephen Cobb explains how this sort of malware works in a detailed blog post here.

Author Rob Waugh /Rob Waugh, WeLiveSecurity/

Author , We Live Security

  • This was bs. I was doing my essay homework, for like about an hour and a half and all of a sudden, my webcam started flashing and I was blocked! I am so pissed off right now!
    I didn’t even get to save my work. That was a wasted 1 hour and 30 minutes of my life.

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