Just a few days ago, my friend who lives in Naples was browsing the internet just like any other day when his screen suddenly went white. This happened without warning and without his downloading anything. Then a page popped up claiming to represent the NSA, and it said that his computer was locked because of multiple online legal offenses. Among those listed were piracy and the possession of illegal pictures. On the other side of the screen was a place to enter credit card info. Above it the page said that my friend must pay a $300 fine in order for his offenses to be forgiven and his computer unlocked. Though the whole thing is clearly a virus and not actually a false accusation by the government when you think about it, my friend was caught off guard and it gave him quite a scare. And as it turns out, his grandmother had gotten the same virus on her computer around the same time, and she lives on the complete opposite side of town.
My friend told my his grandmother’s theory about the virus and it’s quite an interesting one. According to the elderly woman in question, the virus is a cyber-attack from Russia and other Eastern European nations who disagree with America’s actions in Syria. In retaliation for what our government is doing, Russia has apparently started trying to scam American citizens out of a few hundred bucks. Now this theory in my mind sounds more ridiculous than the virus itself, and a quick Google search of “Russia computer virus” with no results very quickly confirmed my doubts. However, I think that theories such as this stem from the fear of the unknown with which the general public regards computer viruses. These days people spend a lot of money on their computers and care about them very much. When a virus can render a computer useless without warning, I have to admit that’s pretty unnerving. It was unnerving enough to cause me to shut my own computer down when I got home than night and not use it again until I reached Orlando. However, it wasn’t unnerving enough to induce Cold War-era paranoia for me. I think that if Russia had retaliated, more people would know about it.