A spam e-mail has been sent to Windows users that claims to offer decryption keys for the malware which has emptied millions from bank accounts worldwide.
The campaign by hackers claims to unlock any personal files on a PC that have been locked but then downloads onto a computer a dangerous virus.
Experts have warned people not to open any unsolicited e-mails which offers a solution to CryptoLocker and Gameover Zeus.
Raluca Stanciu, a malware researcher at tech firm BullGuard who identified the threat, said: “Cyber criminals have been quick off the mark following the widespread media coverage around CryptoLocker and Gameover Zeus.
“They’re trying to exploit fear and uncertainty. As a rule, unsolicited emails like this should be ignored.
“But that said, we can expect to see more similar-themed emails in the coming weeks.”
In the last few days rogue software CryptoLocker and GameOver Zeus have received a lot of attention following an announcement by the US and European officials that they have temporarily managed to disrupt the system used by the malware.
And according to the UK’s National Crime Agency, UK citizens will have a two-week window to reduce the threat by strengthening their computer’s protection.
BullGuard already protects you against these two viruses: it detects them and successfully cleans the infected machines.
However, you do need to ensure that you have the latest updates installed and that BullGuard is turned on. Do this, and you can be assured that you’re safe.
Keep it safe
However, if these conditions aren’t met and as a result CryptoLocker manages to encrypt your data, no one will be able to decrypt it and you won’t be able to access your files. As a general rule, it’s always a good idea to regularly backup your files.
A short summary of CryptoLocker and GameOver Zeus
If CryptoLocker finds its way onto your computer it silently contacts its control and command servers and then receives instructions to begin encrypting files with specified extensions, for example Word and PDF documents. It’s known as ransomware because the victim’s files are encrypted and in order to decrypt them a ransom has to be paid.
GameOver Zeus on the other hand spies for personal information, such as banking credentials, and sends this data back to a botnet system. As well as losing personal data the infected computer also becomes part of the botnet.
Computer users are being urged to protect their machines from malware which allows hackers to steal financial data.
British investigators have been working with the FBI to trace the hackers behind ongoing attacks, and the botnet system used by the targets has been temporarily disrupted.
But the UK’s National Crime Agency says people have just two weeks before the system could be functioning again, and urged people to protect their computers from an expected “powerful computer attack”.
Bogachev is said to use the online monikers ‘lucky12345’ and ‘slavik’
Between 500,000 and one million machines have so far been infected worldwide, according to court documents.
US officials have accused a Russian hacker of masterminding the scam – and prosecutors say those involved have already raked in more than $100m (£60m).
The NCA is urging people to back up important files and make sure their security software and operating system are up to date.
Two pieces of malware software known as GOZeuS and CryptoLocker are responsible for the alert.
They typically infect a computer via attachments or links in emails.
If a user clicks on GOZeuS, it silently monitors activity and tries to capture information such as bank details.
“(The links or attachments) may look like they have been sent by genuine contacts and may purport to carry invoices, voicemail messages, or any file made to look innocuous,” the NCA warned.
“These emails are generated by other victims’ computers, who do not realise they are infected, and are used to send mass emails creating more victims.”
The Cryptolocker malware is activated if the first attack is not profitable enough.
It locks a user from their files and threatens to delete them unless a “ransom” of several hundred pounds is paid.
Some 234,000 machines were hit by Cryptolocker – bringing in $27m (£16m) in payments – in its first two months, the US Justice Department said.
Computers running Windows software are said to be most vulnerable
More than 15,500 computers in the UK are infected and “many more” are at risk, according to the NCA.
Stewart Garrick, a senior investigator with the NCA, told Sky News the threat was mainly against individuals or businesses running Windows-based computers.
Thirty-year-old Russian Evgeniy Bogachev is the alleged leader of the gang behind the attacks, FBI executive assistant director Robert Anderson told a news conference in Washington DC.
US and other agents seized servers around the world this weekend and freed 300,000 computers from the infection.
“They (the FBI) have disrupted the network and taken control of it,” said Sky’s Tom Cheshire.
“So when the hackers try to speak to the computer that’s affected, that line of communication has been cut off.
“You now have a chance to clean up. The first thing you should do is update your operating system – especially if you’re on Windows, then look to scan your computer for viruses and it should be able to find it.”
For more information visit www.getsafeonline.org/nca.
What SG Recommend,
To ensure that your computer does not get infected we recommend the following:
- You are a running an up to date Operating System For example Windows Vista, 7, 8 and 8.1. If you are currently running Windows XP then you will have a high risk of getting infected. If you are running Windows XP then we recommend that you upgrade NOW!
- Make sure that you have installed ALL Windows updates for your computer.
- Install a premium Anti-Virus package to ensure that you have the best protection for your computer, some of the free products will not give you enough protection.
- Just because you have an Anti-Virus product installed does not mean it is running efficiently, make sure that your Anti-Virus is running properly and is fully up to date.
- Make sure you have a backup of all your data, this includes Photos, Documents, Videos and emails. If you do not have a backup and you are infected with the Crypto Lock malware then your data will be lost forever. Make sure this does not happen to you!
Windows 8 is nearly here!
Windows 8 should be finally here next week (October the 26th 2012) and many of our customers have been asking “When is the release date?”, “Will my PC run Windows 8?” so I’m glad that people are interested in the new Operating System.
Windows 8 is pointing at the tablet market now, manufacturers are shipping tablets running the table version of Windows 8 and they are looking promising. But Windows 8 will still work nicely on desktops and notebooks.
Netbooks on the other hand have a too small screen resolution to support Windows 8. A standard netbook screen is on average 10.1 inches with a resolution at 1024 x 600 (some may be different) and the minimum to run the Windows Store and tile apps is 1024 x 768 basically making Windows 8 on a netbook pretty useless but you can still run it but I wouldn’t recommend it on a netbook unless it meets the minimum system requirements.
Some useful things you like to know
The layout for the Windows Operating System hasn’t change for a long time since the introduction of Windows 95. There has always been a Taskbar, Start menu and a Desktop. When Windows Vista was released they introduced Gadgets, which didn’t really change the look but was an added feature. Windows 8 has been redesigned, the first thing you will see is not the desktop but the Start menu where all your applications such as Mail, People, Calendars Music etc these are called tiles. (This was originally called Metro UI/Interface, but Microsoft may have to change it due to legal reasons)
Tiles are you applications, if you install a new application there will be new a tile added representing that program. Some tiles will show you updates from the Start menu these are called “Live Tiles” but not all applications include live tiles. For example the default Weather tile will automatically show the local weather, current temperature.
Never fear the desktop isn’t gone forever, you can access it via the Start menu. On the Desktop any applications such as notepad will be open on your Desktop.
Get use to Corners and Shortcuts
Everyone knows Ctrl+C and Ctrl+V (Copy and Paste) basically these shortcuts keys are going to be used more if you want to use Windows 8 faster and easier as it can be pretty confusing finding what you want with the mouse. For example the Windows Key will take you to the Start menu (from any application or the desktop) instead of moving your mouse into the bottom left-hand corner.
Speaking of corners here’s a few examples;
Mouse top left corner then bring down the screen (equivalent Alt+Tab/Win+Tab)
shows the list of running applications, you have the ability to open and close selected programs.
Now last time i herd they were called charms but they may be renamed on final release but,
Mouse top right corner then bring down the screen shows Search, Share, Start, Devices and Settings.
Tips and Tricks
As long as Microsoft doesn’t change too much on the final release then these shortcuts will work.
Shutdown your PC
I know this one sounds daft but it is a bit odd they should really make a tile but;
Go to your Charms, hit Settings (Cog), Power and Shutdown, Restart and Log Off are all there.
Shortcut: Ctrl+I, Power, and Shutdown, Restart and Log Off are all there.
This is what I mean by using shortcuts to make the easy tasks even easier.
Note: Over the Windows 8 development there have been some major changes so all these tips and tricks may not work on the final release but it doesn’t look like Microsoft will be changing Windows 8 dramatically any more so these should all work.
I’ll leave you with the current System Requirements for Windows 8 but like with Windows 7;
“If your PC ran Windows Vista it can run Windows 7” I feel the same will be with Windows 8 “If it runs 7 it will run 8”.
*Windows 8 System Requirements:
Processor 1GHz or faster
RAM 1GB (32bit) or 2GB (64bit)
Hard Drive 16GB (32bit) or 20GB (64bit)
Graphics Card Microsoft DirectX 9 Graphics device or higher
To use touch A tablet or monitor that supports multi-touch
To access the Windows Store and to download and run apps An active internet connection and a screen resolution of at least 1024 x 768 pixels
To snap apps A display with a resolution of at least 1366 x 768 pixels
*subject to change
Any questions on Windows 8 or related to the subject don’t hesitate to email me your questions to: firstname.lastname@example.org