Extorting Computer Viruses Are the Latest Threat

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By Kalyan Kumar | July 15, 2014 3:12 PM EST

A deadly computer virus named Ransomware is spreading like wild fire, reported CNN. This malware locks out computer files and encrypt them forcing to pay ransom to reopen them with a key. Experts in anti-malware operations find it difficult to exterminate. The report also mentions about a major ransomware 'Cryptolocker' offensive carried out by the FBI recently.

Modus Operandi

The malware operation named Cryptolocker used a massive network of hijacked computers called botnet and spread the virus. The FBI and its associates teamed and cut off the communication between that botnet and devices of the victims. They also seized Cryptolocker's servers and replaced them with their own servers.

Huge Devastation

In a span of nine months, Cryptolocker had wreaked havoc and hijacked the files of half a million people, mostly Americans. Then the victims were asked to pay $300 within three days to get the key to their files. Though many refused to pay a a fraction of them paid up and the criminals collected around $4 million.

Partial Victory

Antivirus maker Bitdefender points out it is too early to take comfort that the FBI operation has finished the malware. It is only a partial victory. What has been accomplished is just stopping Cryptolocker's virus delivery system but Cryptolocker and its criminal brains can again get a new botnet to start delivering viruses to computers once again.  After the Cryptolocker was dismantled many users could not communicate with Cryptolocker's network and get back the keys to unlock their files. That means they have lost the files forever.

Once the criminals tweak the virus' code and find a different set of servers, FBI will be back to square one. The hackers only needed to update the malware noted Bogdan Botezatu, senior threat analyst from Bitdefenders.

Be Safe

Jiri Sejtko, Director of AVAST Software's Virus Lab Operations in a blog also advises that the best protection to ransomware comes from using antivirus software. That will readily protect the files a user never wanted to part with. Outdated software can make systems vulnerable for ransomware. It is better to keep systems and applications up-to-date especially Java, Flash, PDF Reader and  other browsers.

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