Internet virus threat – act now to stay safe

Posted on 05/06/2014 by

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Internet users have been warned that they have just two weeks to protect themselves against the GameOver Zeus and CryptoLocker viruses being used by criminal gangs to extort millions of pounds, security agencies announced on Monday.

GameOver Zeus was created by Eastern European criminal gangs to locate and capture computer files that give access to banking and financial information, while Cryptolocker encrypts all files on a target’s computer and demands the user pays a ‘ransom’ of around £300 to unlock the data.

Almost 250,000 computers worldwide have been infected with CryptoLocker since it first appeared in April and it has so far been used to extort payments of more than $27m (£16m), according to the FBI.

What can you do to protect your computer from cyber attack?

Well, protecting  your passwords is a good place to start – don’t store unencrypted passwords on your computer in case they are detected by malware viruses. If you must store passwords, use a safe and reliable password manager application like PasswordBox, LastPass 3.0 or KeePass, which back up and shares with your smartphone or tablet computer.

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And Norton Internet Security has issued the following advice:

Both Gameover Zeus and Cryptolocker are malware targeting personal information for financial gain. Gameover Zeus runs software on an infected device, which is used to intercept online banking transactions, defrauding customers and banks.

Cryptolocker is a new form of ransomware which works by encrypting files on the victim hard-drive, then demanding payment for the key to decrypt.

This week the UK National Crime Agency and the FBI, working with Symantec and other partners, were able to significantly disrupt two financial malware operations: Gameover Zeus botnet and Cryptolocker ransomware network.

How to protect yourself:

  • If you receive an e-mail with an attachment – DO NOT open it unless it’s expected. Examples would be invoices for unknown purchases, bank statements (which are never e-mailed)
  • DO NOT click on website links to download files unless you have request them
  • Make sure that the signatures for your anti-virus software are updated to the latest version as this will protect against Gameover Zeus
  • Run regular full scans of your computers and backup your files

It really is worth taking the time to follow these simple steps now to avoid a lot of grief afterwards.

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