Have you ever found a picture you liked online and posted it on a personal blog? Have you ever copied a movie to your hard drive to have a backup copy? Have you downloaded a song from a source which didn't have the proper authorization? You may have taken any number of actions that were, to you, completely innocuous, but were actually violations of copyright. Seeing a Copyright Violation Alert, then, can be alarming because it is conceivable you could have made such a misstep. Should you believe these warnings?
What is the Copyright Violation Alert?
While browsing, you may receive a pop-up message telling you that illegal torrents have been detected in your system. The Copyright Violation Alert, which is issued by the nonexistent ICPP Copyright Foundation, indicates that you have stolen copyrighted material, and your IP address and data will be sent to the proper authorities. You will face legal action, including fines and jail time. To avoid this, you can opt to pay ICPP a "pre-trial settlement," which will absolve you of all charges.
ICPP claims to be a law firm that works closely with copyright holders, MPAA, and RIAA, though it is important to realize that ICPP is not affiliated with any of these organizations, nor is the Trojan able to scan your computer. The Copyright Violation Alert is also known as ICPP-Online and the Antipiracy Foundation Scanner.
Is the Copyright Violation Alert Trojan Installed in Your System?
Many Trojans operate very covertly, and you may have a difficult time knowing they are even there. Fortunately for computer users, the Copyright Violation Alert is not hard to recognize. The Trojan depends on pop-up ads, disguised as warnings and alerts, to convince you to pay the ICPP $400 for a pre-trial settlement. These ads are fairly detailed, and at the top, you will see:
Windows has detected that you are using content that has been downloaded violating copyright of its respective owners. Please read the following bulletin and try to solve the problem in one of the recommended ways.
The "recommended ways" are going to court or paying ICPP. The ad goes on to explain the consequences of your nonexistent infringement:
Probably you've been using file-sharing clients, torrents, or downloaded the content straight from the website. In any of those cases, you have violated the copyright of the respective owners. In most countries, this type of activity is prosecuted and serious penalties are imposed. Maximum penalties could be five years in prison and up to $250,000 in fines.
The goal here is to urge very quick action on the part of computer users and to persuade them that they have done something wrong. Another very common message reads:
This computer is being used for illegal activity associated with copyright violation. Records about this computer's owner are about to be sent to court. If you saw this message by accident, please report any information about a possible owner of this comp.
You will then be directed to ICPP's website, where it represents itself as a law firm that has developed "effective and unique methods" for detecting piracy and helping copyright holders enforce their rights. Further, the site claims that if you pay the fine, which totals just under $400, you are entitled to use the material if you adhere to copyright laws.
It is important to know that these "alerts" are false. There has been no scan of your computer, and whether or not you have any illegally downloaded material has no bearing. They are simply ads designed to get your credit card information and your money.
Even if you do not click on the ads or pay your "pre-trial settlement" fee, the Copyright Violation Alert Trojan can affect the performance of your computer. As is common with other Trojans and rogue programs, you will likely notice that your system is running more slowly than usual. The Trojan diverts your system resources to run itself, leaving less for your legitimate programs. You may also experience changed browser settings and redirects to ICPP rogue websites.
Removing Copyright Violation Alert
In itself, the Copyright Violation Alert does not present a severe threat, unless you pay ICPP. However, its presence does leave the door open for other Trojans carrying malware. Trojans can exploit security weaknesses, and your computer may be compromised. It is best, then, to remove Copyright Violation Alert as soon as possible.
Automatic removal with a program like iS3's STOPzilla is by far the easiest and quickest way to handle the Copyright Violation Alert. This program is designed to effectively detect and eliminate Trojans and rogue programs that may escape the notice of standard scans. Manual removal is possible, but it is recommended that only those with technical expertise attempt it. There is the risk that you may accidentally delete a necessary file or fail to remove the Trojan completely.
Scan your system with STOPzilla removing all detected infections.
Reboot your PC
Scan your system again to ensure the removal process is complete.
STOPzilla was updated on 20th October 2010 (software v7.0.1, database v432) to remove the latest variants. If the infection persists even after using STOPzilla, do the following steps to raise a support ticket:
Ensure you are connected to the Internet
Open STOPzilla program
Click Backup List on the STOPzilla Menu
Click Save Log File
Click About option on the STOPzilla Menu
Click the Tech Support button to email the log file to the support team.
To mitigate the chances of future infections from malicious programs it's important to keep your PC up-to-date with the latest Windows security updates and use a reputable anti-spyware program such as STOPzilla.
If you have any questions regarding "ICPP Copyright Violation Alert" removal please feel free to contact us.
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