The cybercrime money making machine
Ransom-ware is not a new culprit, but it is a powerful one and over the past year (2012) it has been gaining more and more power and grip in the malware jungle.
In 2013, Ransomware is definitely the new kid on the block, or rather, the new cyber bully on the block, to watch for.
Ransomware draws its name from the malicious action it performs. Once rooting itself in your computer, it literally holds it for ransom – paralyzing your device and demanding you pay to get it unlocked and set free.
The growing trend of Ransomware was detected by the end of 2012 when all big cyber security companies prepared their annual reports. By February this year, the experts’ predictions, sadly came true, when authorities uncovered a multi million Euro Ransomware plot!
This plot covered 30 countries, countless victims and made its operators millions of Euros.
Cyber crime is not a new thing, so why now?
Well Cyber crime, Malware, viruses and even Ransomware are not new and they’ve been around for a while. However, there is something different in the past few years. Our behaviour as computer users and online consumers has changed. We trust more websites, we keep more data online and we conduct more and more daily actions online. Hey, if our bank allows us to transfer money online and says it’s safe, who are we to say otherwise? And why not use this convenient option that saves us time?
So what is Ransomware it about?
Ransomware, unlike regular malware, is about being able to use incoming data such as credit card details and convert it into real money. In other words, to write and operate a Ransomware, one doesn’t necessarily need to be a technical person. Simply put, the cyber crime pool of culprits just burst wide open. What was once the territory of hackers is now in the hands of any person with a criminal mindset.
Why do people fall victim to Ransomware?
No matter how computer savvy you are, the Ransomware charades are very convincing. What will usually happen is a message will pop up on your entire screen saying you’ve infringed copyrights, visited an illegal website or downloaded something illegally. With the thrive of social networks we’re all sharing photos (not always our own), downloading videos and clicking links like mad…. so in effect, who knows, maybe we DID do one of those “bad” things. The Message is usually adorned with some official logo and bombastic name such as the Department of Justice or the FBI, and that is enough to make anyone quiver.
What to do if your computer has been hijacked by Ransomware?
First of all, do NOT pay the “fine”. What you need to do is boot your computer in “safe mode” and then use whatever antivirus you have to try and clean your machine. However, this might not always be enough…
Prevention is the best option you have and sadly, antivirus and firewall, even in combination with good old common sense, are not enough. We suggest using an additional layer of defense for your computer, something that will kick into gear to catch threats that managed to penetrate despite other defenses. Magen is an alert system that will let you know of any programs that registered and rooted themselves into your computer to be triggered when you next boot up. Knowledge of what’s going on inside your machine will allow you to take action before you boot up the computer again and clean it up (restoring it to the last clean point in time) before going any further.