Thousands of Irish internet users could be at risk from "ransom" email spam seemingly sent from financial institutions.
An example of email spam is: “Claim Your Tax Refund Online:- Refund of EUR 244.10” from the “Irish Revenue” or “Internet Banking Alert:- Update your information now” from “Ulster Bank” and there are lots more.
The latest beast in town is called the CryptoLocker Virus. It’s a nasty piece of malware that encrypts files on a victim’s computer and issues an ultimatum: Pay up or lose your data. CryptoLocker then demands payment (or a ransom) of up to €500 and installs a countdown clock on the victim’s desktop that ticks backwards from 72 hours.
The malware is spread through emails purporting to be from some well-known financial institutions or brands, and there are reports that the malware could also come as an attachment in emails. When you click on the attachment, CryptoLocker installs itself on your computer, takes a look at what you have on your hard drive (as well as mapped network drives and even files that you may have stored in the cloud), encrypts a variety of important file types and then begins its ‘negotiations’. A countdown timer is displayed and demands a ransom to decrypt the files.
Reports suggest that people who have paid the ransom have not had their files decrypted and it has been impossible to restore encrypted files and there is no guarantee that the people behind the demand would honour the payments.
What does GDK Recommend?
Firstly, don’t panic. GDK have been helping customers for the past 15 years to protect their systems from Malware that includes Viruses, Worms, Trojans, and Bots. We recommend the following:
- Protect your computers from becoming infected by keeping it up-to-date with Anti-Virus and security patches. Download updates frequently (ideally daily) to ensure that your software has the latest fixes for new malware. Make sure that your antivirus program can scan e-mail and files as they are downloaded from the Internet.
- A robust Firewall should also be installed to prevent your systems from rogue websites ‘intruding’ when a link to a website is activated.
- Be cautious of opening unsolicited email attachments or clicking on unknown links. If in doubt "Don’t open that email or it’s attachment”
- Consider setting a software restriction policy on your Windows PCs that prevents executables from running from certain locations on your hard drive.
- Make Backups of your important data and keep them separate from your computer (to prevent malware like CryptoLocker from encrypting your backups as well). That way, if the worst does happen, you should be able to restore your valuable data and not pay up to the crooks.
As we said earlier:- GDK are available to assist and advise you to protect your systems against Malware and all Internet security threats.
Click above to send us a form with your request or Ring our office 01-2166 970 to speak to a consultant who will advise you on the best systems and procedures for your organisation.
Please note that our existing GDK Clients who are proactively managed by GDK for their networks and workstations, who have a GDK firewall installed and who have a Managed Anti Virus installed, have less need to worry.
But everybody should be cautious opening unsolicited email attachments or clicking on unknown links.
Gerry Kirby email:GK@gdk.ie
Technical Consultancy Director
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