Action Line: Beware Malaysia Flight 370 ‘news’ schemes

For more than a month, the world has been watching and checking for updates as rescuers search for the wreckage of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.

The story has also given schemers a chance to exploit computer users by posting misleading headlines, like “Video of Malaysian MH-370 Plane Found in Bermuda Triangle, Passengers Alive.”

“They use it as bait to lure unsuspecting users to visit websites to open files or to run videos or music,” said Chris Duque, a former Honolulu police detective and internet security expert.

Duque says he has seen this type of scheme before and once you click on the link, your computer is infected.

“What happens is it encrypts part of your hard drive or your entire hard drive or certain files, and to free those files so that it can be used by the user, the user has to pay some sort of fee quote to these hackers or these criminals or scammers,” Duque said.

Duque says even if you pay the so-called fee, the chances of getting your files back are slim to none, so protecting yourself is critical.

“Unfortunately, common sense is not as common as we think it is,” he said. “Curiosity kills the cat. If you get that gut feeling that something is not right, move away from the keyboard.”

Here are some tips:

  • Always back up your computer, daily if possible.
  • Be cautious of clicking on links that advertise “exclusive” or “shocking” video. If it sounds too absurd to be true, it probably is.
  • Make sure your computer has some sort of anti-virus or anti-malware software.
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