Yesterday, I got hit with a computer virus. I’m not sure how it breached security, but it wasn’t very hard to deal with it.
Your Computer is Locked!
I was looking at the business news on the BBC website when a screen came up — “Your Computer is Locked.” My taskbar was gone. I tried to pop up task manager to close the process that had taken over my computer, but task manager would only appear briefly and then disappear, and restarting my computer didn’t help. I couldn’t run my virus software — I couldn’t run anything. I COULD restart my computer in safe mode, and a system restore seems to have solved the problem — two different virus checkers found no problems left after the system restore.
The screen claimed to be from the Metropolitan Police, and said that illegal activity was detected on my computer. Therefore, I had to pay a fine using Ukash (an international payments mechanism) of £100. Once I entered the Ukash voucher number, my computer would be unlocked.
Unlike many of these scams, there was only one misspelled word, and there were no glaring grammatical errors. The version I got was generally well-written — it could have indeed come from an official body, as far as the language is concerned. (Often these things look like someone wrote in another language and translated using Google translation.)
It didn’t take much to recognise the flaws, though. The Metropolitan Police, as far as I know, have no real legal authority in Scotland. If they did, they wouldn’t be collecting funds through Ukash. And the things described on the screen would bring you a lot more trouble than just a £100 fine.
A Clear Conscience
After the system restore, as the virus checker ran, something struck me. I instantly knew it was a virus, not because of those logical flaws, but because my conscience was clear. I haven’t visited illegal (or legal) pornographic sites or terrorism-related web pages, or used my computer for money-laundering. If I had, or if someone had used my computer to do those things, CovenantEyes would have red-flagged it, and someone from my company would have been in touch. I instantly knew that this was wrong.
But what if I hadn’t been innocent? I wondered how someone would react if he DID have a guilty conscience. If you had viewed immoral web sites, especially at work, and this screen came up, what would you do? The natural reaction would be to get rid of it as soon as possible, especially before your boss found out. Pay the fine, avoid further consequences, get it resolved, don’t let anyone know. £100? That’s nothing. You have to get this screen off of your computer, as quickly as you can.
Often, when we think of a guilty conscience, we focus (and rightly so) on the damage to a person’s relationship with God. That is the main thing. But a guilty conscience makes you fearful, afraid you will get caught, afraid others will find out, afraid of consequences.
And fear can make you do stupid things —
like paying when a virus comes up on your computer….
Keep your conscience clear.
Save yourself a lot of trouble.