Security firm Bitdefender has released a free version of its malware removal tool to tackle a piece of ransomware that has been on the rampage.
Bitdefender said that it would be offering users a free copy of its "Piracy" malware detection and removal kit to tackle the threat from a piece of malware that poses as a message from law enforcement and looks to extort payment of "fines" from victims.
Shortly after being installed, the malware is said to scan the user's location and then blocks users from using their PC, notifiying them that their systems have been found to be associated with piracy.
Users are then ordered to send payment to the malware operator in order to remove the alert and regain use of their systems. Localised versions of the attack can target users in the US, UK and other parts of Europe.
Bitdefender estimates that the attack has already infected millions of systems and is particularly effective in collecting payments due to the prevalence of users who actually do download and share pirated content.
"The Piracy Trojan capitalises on that same sudden jolt of fear people experience when they hear a police siren and see the flashing lights behind them as they’re being pulled over,” said Bitdefender chief security researcher Alexandru Balan.
"The Trojan scans the victim’s IP address, tells them the message is from the police, and then accuses them of an offence they very well may have committed without even knowing it."
While this attack has been particularly effective, the use of law enforcement images and claims of police authority has become increasingly popular in 'ransomware' attacks. Such scams will often block access to some or all files on a system unless the victim agrees to make payment to the malware operator.