Written by Tomas Meskauskas
Damage level: Severe
PRISM Virus "Your computer has been locked due to suspicions of illegal content downloading and distribution" - how to remove?
What is PRISM?
The NSA Internet Surveillance Program PRISM, Computer Crime Prosecution Section message, "Your computer has been locked due to suspicions of illegal content downloading and distribution", blocks computer screens and demands payment of a $300 fine using MoneyPak in order to unlock the system. This is a scam. The message is not related to any legitimate authorities from the USA - it is a ransomware virus created by cyber criminals. The main purpose of this screen-locking message is to scare unsuspecting PC users into paying a bogus fine by making false accusations of law infringements, such as downloading or distributing copyrighted content, watching child pornography, etc.
This ransomware virus infects users' computers using 'exploit kits', which are proliferated via infected email messages, drive-by downloads, and malicious websites. Exploit kits rely on outdated software to infiltrate computers, and therefore, keeping your installed programs up-to-date can drastically reduce the risk of ransomware infection. After successful infiltration, the PRISM virus locks the user's screen and disables all Windows features, which would otherwise allow termination of the fake message. This particular ransomware virus originates from a family called Reveton and targets PC users from the USA. Previous variants of this virus exploited the name of The ICE Cyber Crime Center to scare PC users into paying the bogus fine. The NSA Internet Surveillance Program PRISM "Your computer has been locked!" message is a scam. Do not trust it, since paying the fine as ordered by the message is equivalent to sending your money to cyber criminals.
Cyber criminals responsible for creating ransomware viruses from the Reveton family use IP address information to target PC users from different countries. This is achieved with localized variants of their deceptive, screen-locking messages. To make their rogue messages appear realistic, cyber criminals exploit the names of various authorities and organizations, in this case, the NSA. Other known ransomware viruses use the names of the FBI, ACMA, ICE, etc. in order to deceive PC users into paying the bogus fine to unlock their computers. PC users should be aware that no authorities or organizations, internationally, use screen-locking message to collect fines for any law violations. If your computer screen is already blocked with a message supposedly sent by the NSA Internet Surveillance Program PRISM, use the removal guide provided to eliminate this scam.
A fake message presented by the PRISM Virus:
NSA Internet Surveillance Program.
Computer Crime Prosecution Section.
Your Computer has been locked!
Your computer has been locked due to suspicions of illegal content downloading and distribution.
Your case can be classified as occasional/unmotivated, according to 17 (U.S Code)
Thus it may be closed without prosecution.
Your computer will be unblocked automatically.
In order to resolve the situation in an above-mentioned way you should pay a fine of $300 (MoneyPak)
- What is PRISM?
- STEP 1. "PRISM" virus removal using safe mode with networking.
- STEP 2. "PRISM" ransomware removal using System Restore.
PRISM virus removal:
Windows XP and Windows 7 users: Start your computer in Safe Mode. Click Start, click Shut Down, click Restart, click OK. During your computer starting process press the F8 key on your keyboard multiple times until you see the Windows Advanced Option menu, then select Safe Mode with Networking from the list.
Video showing how to start Windows 7 in "Safe Mode with Networking":
Windows 8 users: Go to the Windows 8 Start Screen, type Advanced, in the search results select Settings. Click on Advanced Startup options, in the opened "General PC Settings" window select Advanced Startup. Click on the "Restart now" button. Your computer will now restart into "Advanced Startup options menu". Click on the "Troubleshoot" button, then click on "Advanced options" button. In the advanced option screen click on "Startup settings". Click on the "Restart" button. Your PC will restart into the Startup Settings screen. Press "5" to boot in Safe Mode with Networking.
Video showing how to start Windows 8 in "Safe Mode with Networking":
Log in to the account infected with the PRISM Virus. Start your Internet browser and download a legitimate anti-spyware program. Update the anti-spyware software and start a full system scan. Remove all entries detected.
If you cannot start your computer in Safe Mode with Networking, try performing a System Restore.
Video showing how to remove ransomware virus using "Safe Mode with Command Prompt" and "System Restore":
1. During your computer starting process, press the F8 key on your keyboard multiple times until the Windows Advanced Options menu appears, and then select Safe Mode with Command Prompt from the list and press ENTER.
2. When Command Prompt Mode loads, enter the following line: cd restore and press ENTER.
3. Next, type this line: rstrui.exe and press ENTER.
4. In the opened window click "Next".
5. Select one of the available Restore Points and click "Next" (this will restore your computer system to an earlier time and date, prior to the ransomware virus infiltrating your PC).
6. In the opened window click "Yes".
7. After restoring your computer to a previous date, download and scan your PC with recommended malware removal software to eliminate any remnants of the PRISM ransomware virus.
If you cannot start your computer in Safe Mode with Networking (or with Command Prompt),boot your computer using a rescue disk. Some variants of ransomware disable Safe Mode making its removal complicated. For this step, you require access to another computer. After removing the PRISM ransomware virus from your PC, restart your computer and scan it with legitimate antispyware software to remove any possible remnants of this security infection.
Other tools known to remove PRISM ransomware virus: