How to protect yourself from the coming virus apocalypse
After the takedown of a major botnet, users have a "two-week window" to protect themselves against a powerful computer attack that ransoms people's data and steals millions of dollars from unsuspecting victims.
If you read our blog, you are familiar with the dangers of the Zeus Trojan and ransomware, and how people get infected. Here’s a quick review:
1. The victim opens a carefully crafted email which is designed to look like it came from their bank or a well-known company.
2. The victim clicks on and runs an email attachment.
3. Malicious software like the one making the news now, Gameover Zeus, releases a Trojan which searches the computer for passwords and financial data.
4. Once Gameover Zeus finds what it’s seeking, cybercrooks instruct CryptoLocker, ransomware software, to hijack the computer, encrypt the files, and demand payment for it to be unlocked. To get access to your computer again, you must pay a ransom within a set amount of time.
5. Once infected, the computer becomes part of the global botnet.
Led by the FBI, agents from Europol and the UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA) brought two computer networks that used the Gameover Zeus botnet and Cryptolocker ransomware to infect up to a million computers and cost people more than $100 million under control of the good guys.
This window is based on the amount of time the FBI thinks they can ”hold the upper-ground against the cybercriminals.” Two weeks should be enough time for computer users to update their operating system software and security software and disconnect infected computers.
GetSafeOnline.org in cooperation with the NCA has created an information page to help you protect your computer, your finances, your identity and your family against a new global online threat. The threat is targeted at random private individuals and small businesses, so it is critical that you read this page and apply the advice immediately if you have a computer running any version of the Windows operating system – including Windows running as a virtual machine on an Apple Mac, any server running Windows and Windows embedded. Take the steps on this page and below, and you will be protected.
UK citizens: Your Internet Service Provider (ISP) is working with the NCA, so they will be notified if your computer is infected, and in turn send you an email. Follow the advice on this page right away.
Cybercrooks will take advantage of the situation to send “phishing emails,” so check where it came from and the links you are supposed to click. If you get an email from someone claiming to be your ISP, make absolutely certain that it is genuine before opening a link. As we advised above, it’s safer to go directly to the website. Also be aware that similar emails, which appear to have been sent by a friend, family member or colleague, could be sent automatically by a computer infected with the Zeus malware and ransomware.
Report a loss
U.S. victims of Gameover Zeus can find assistance at http://www.us-cert.gov/gameoverzeus, a site created by the Department of Homeland Security's Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT).
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