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January 24th, 2014

Ransomware worse than CryptoLocker?

The name CryptoLocker makes the hairs on the back of our neck stand up, and now researchers tell us that something worse may be coming.
ransomware

You recall that CryptoLocker locks up users’ machines, encrypts the files, then demands a payment to unlock the encrypted files. Even if the actual malware is removed, the data remains unavailable.

“There’s mostly no way to get the data back without paying the ransom and that’s the reason why bad guys focus on this scheme as it generates huge profit, “ said  Jiri Sejtko, Director of AVAST Software’s Virus Lab Operations.

There is new evidence that another more insidious version of ransomware could be coming. Underground hacker forums have seen advertisements for a new DIY ransomware tool-kit dubbed Prison Locker or PowerLocker available, along with convenient tutorials, for a $100 license fee. A blog post on Malware Must Die, an online crime fighting group, gives the details.

“I would say it’s nothing really new,” said Sejtko, “There’s nearly no difference compared to CryptoLocker and other similar threats. These guys use well-known algorithms where you simply can’t break the encryption without knowing the key.”

During the flurry of predictions for 2014, many security experts looked to ransomware to increase – even moving to Android devices. Because data on mobile devices are synced with some type of cloud service and could be more easily recovered, it seems that ransomware would target the device rather than the data.

“We can expect some rise in ransomware occurences,” predicts Sejtko. “Malware authors will probably focus on screen-lockers, file-lockers and even on browser-lockers to gain money from victims.”

howto2_enHow to stay safe from ransomware?

Sejtko says that the best protection comes from always using antivirus software, preferably avast! Antivirus, and a backup. “That’s the best protection for the files you don’t want to lose.” avast! BackUp protects files on your PC’s hard drive, and avast! Mobile BackUp protects contacts, call logs, SMS text messages, and other data on your mobile device.

“Outdated software makes you more vulnerable for ransomware, so keep your system and applications up-to-date, especially  Java, PDF Reader, Browsers, and Flash,” said Sejtko. The avast! Software Updater feature in all of our products, shows you an overview of all your outdated software applications, so you can keep them updated and eliminate any security vulnerabilities.

Increase your knowledge about ransomware on the avast! blog

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