Blue Screen of Death
The Blue Screen of Death on Windows 8 included a sad emoticon. Hackers have since replicated a version of the notorious image as part of a scam. Wikicommons

KickAss Torrents, the busiest pirate site on the Internet, is serving many of its 332 million daily visitors with a pop-up ad warning them about a security threat. All a user needs to do to avoid it, the ad says, is to type in their personal information for “technical support.” The only problem: None of that is true.

The pop-ups mimicked the Blue Screen of Death, the notorious error screen showed on Windows computers when their operating system ceased to function safely. Similar messages are shown in Apple's OS X, and on previous versions of the iPhone. Now, though, it appears that a shady call center based in Central America has convinced KickAss Torrents to broadcast a similar message in an attempt to gain remote access to users' computers.

The scam warns users that their photos, contacts, credit card number and other sensitive information may have been compromised. It's a strategy commonly used by remote access hackers, who attempt to infiltrate victims' accounts or computers by tricking them into downloading a malicious file or stealing their passwords and locking them out of their accounts. An analysis of the Who-Is domain listing website shows that the ad is tied to, based in Panama, a hotspot for Internet scams.

When a reporter from The Register called the number on the ad, someone claiming to be a member of the techinal support team answered the phone. The “staff member,” who reportedly spoke in a Panamanian accent, tried to convince the reporter to download a desktop client before hanging up the phone.