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Ransomware becoming more prominent ID theft threat

Nov 15, 2013 Dave King

The Internet has become a virtual playground for criminals looking to commit identity theft. From online banking to ecommerce to simple email messages, the opportunities for these nefarious individuals to steal the personal and private information of companies and consumers is growing quickly.

One of the primary tactics hackers use to access this data is called "ransomware." Basically, ransomware hijacks an individual's computer, preventing them from using it until they have paid a fee, or ransom, The Virginian-Pilot reported. And incidences of this are only increasing.

For example, 57-year-old widow Terry Dent told the newspaper that she knew the message on her computer was a scam the moment she saw it. However, the virus went further than just asking for money. It managed to turn on her webcam as well.

"You could see my whole living room," said Dent as quoted by the news source. "You could see my door was open. You could see everything."

However, Dent is not alone in being a victim. Earlier this month, the University of Delaware Information Technologies announced that at least one computer had been infected with a particularly virulent form of ransomware known as CryptoLocker.