Three Britons have been arrested on suspicion of distributing malicious software known as “ransomware”.

Ransomware is becoming increasingly popular with cyber criminals and usually involves preventing a computer from starting up or running any programmes unless the ‘ransom’ is paid.

The program used by the three arrested Britons made victims believe their web browsing habits were being investigated by police.

It would stop a PC working and display a warning message purportedly from the Metropolitan Police. The message claimed illegal web use had been detected and demanded payment of a £100 fine.

The warning page used logos from both the Metropolitan Police and the Police Central Crime e-Crime Unit (PCEU) to make it look more like an official warning notice.

Earlier this month an Australian medical centre was hit by ransomware which encrypted patient records. The malicious hackers behind the program demanded 4,000 Australian dollars (£2,610) to release the records.

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Find out more about online threats with our Cyber Security article.

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