Beware ransomware schemes

Berkshire Direct is primarily a web developer. Other than website security, we don’t get involved much in PC security, network security or other small business IT topics. One of our good clients is going through an experience with a “ransomware” attack. If you don’t know about this malware, you need to become familiar with it … and fast. This latest hacking scheme needs to be taken seriously by anyone who has valuable data at home or at work. These days, that’s all of us.

FBI says, “Ransomware is on the rise.”

According to the FBI, “Your computer screen freezes with a pop-up message—supposedly from the FBI or another federal agency—saying that because you violated some sort of federal law your computer will remain locked until you pay a fine. Or you get a pop-up message telling you that your personal files have been encrypted and you have to pay to get the key needed decrypt them.”

These scenarios are examples of ransomware scams, which involve a type of malware that infects computers and restricts users’ access to their files or threatens the permanent destruction of their information unless a ransom—anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars—is paid.”

The Latest Ransomware Threat

Quoting the FBI website again, “A fairly new ransomware variant has been making the rounds lately. Called CryptoWall (and CryptoWall 2.0, its newer version), this virus encrypts files on a computer’s hard drive and any external or shared drives to which the computer has access. It directs the user to a personalized victim ransom page that contains the initial ransom amount (anywhere from $200 to $5,000), detailed instructions about how to purchase Bitcoins, and typically a countdown clock to notify victims how much time they have before the ransom doubles. Victims are infected with CryptoWall by clicking on links in malicious e-mails that appear to be from legitimate businesses and through compromised advertisements on popular websites. According to the U.S. CERT, these infections can be devastating and recovery can be a difficult process that may require the services of a reputable data recovery specialist.”

Protect Yourself from Ransomware

The primary source of the problem for most starts with clicking on links found in malicious e-mails when seem to be from legitimate businesses. Another common source is infected advertisements on popular websites. So, the moral of the story is be SUPER CAREFUL about what you are clicking on.