Ransomware email attachment demands Bitcoin payments

 In News


An email attachment seemingly sent from financial institutions could threaten millions of users, particularly those in the UK.

The legitimate looking email installs ransomware “Cryptolocker” after an attachment is opened, immediately encrypting files. It also unleashes a bogus countdown timer designed to force panicked users to pay immediately. According to the BBC, users are ordered to pay two Bitcoins, or around US$1233 to have the files supposedly unencrypted and restored.

However, the NCA says ransom payments are not endorsed as there is no evidence that files will be unencrypted after complying. Deputy head of the National Cyber Crime unit Lee Miles says the criminals are targeting small to medium businesses and must be stopped.

“The NCA are actively pursuing organised crime groups committing this type of crime. We are working in co-operation with industry and international partners to identify and bring to justice those responsible and reduce the risk to the public.”
This is not the first time a ransom virus has threatened PC users. Earlier this year, the notorious FBI ransomware locked out users of their devices until a ransom was paid. Although the earlier form of malware is still widespread, Cryptolocker could pose even a greater danger in the long term.

We encourage our users to practice safe browsing habits. Be wary of emails even if it appears it comes from trusted sources. Readers are also advised to scan files with a trusted and updated anti-virus program. Anyone affected with this malware should report it to local authorities immediately.


What is Ransomware?

Ransomware comprises a class of malware which restricts access to the computer system that it infects, and demands a ransom paid to the creator of the malware in order for the restriction to be removed. Some forms of ransomware encrypt files on the system’s hard drive (cryptoviral extortion), while some may simply lock the system and display messages intended to coax the user into paying.
Ransomware typically propagates as a trojan like a conventional computer worm, entering a system through, for example, a downloaded file or a vulnerability in a network service. The program will then run a payload: such as one that will begin to encrypt personal files on the hard drive.

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