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Malware demands Bitcoin ransom

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Security software provider ESET has reported that it has received multiple reports of a new malware-spreading campaign in various countries.

Security software provider ESET reports that it has received multiple reports of a new malware-spreading campaign in various countries, mostly in Latin America and Eastern Europe. It starts with a fake email purporting to contain a fax, but is in reality a campaign to spread malicious code. The code encrypts the victim’s files and is then used to extort a ransom in bitcoins for retrieval of the encrypted information.

Called CTB-Locker Ransomware, the malware has caused headaches for thousands of users. Poland, Czech Republic and Mexico iare the most affected, as shown in the following graphic:

The attack began with a fake email arriving in the users’ inbox.  The subject of the email pretends that the attachment is a fax; the file is detected by ESET asWin32/TrojanDownloader.Elenoocka.A.  If you open this attachment and your antivirus software does not protect you, a variant of Win32/FileCoder.DA will be downloaded to your system; all your files will be encrypted and you will lose them forever, unless you pay a ransom in bitcoins to retrieve your information.

Files with extensions such as mp4, .pem, .jpg, .doc, .cer, etc. are encrypted by a key, which makes it virtually impossible to recover the files. Once the malware has finished encrypting user information, it displays a warning and also changes the desktop background with a message similar to that seen in the image below:

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Another peculiar detail of CTB-Locker is this: not only is the message shown to the user in different languages , but it also displays the currency appropriate to that language. If the user chooses to view the message in English, the price is in US dollars, otherwise the value will be in Euros.

While the encryption technique used by CTB-Locker makes it impossible to recover files by analysing the payload, there are certain safety measures that are recommended for users and companies:

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·         If you have a security solution for mail servers, enable filtering by extension. This will help by allowing you to block malicious files with extensions such as .scr, as used by Win32/TrojanDownloader.Elenoocka.A

·         Avoid opening attachments in emails of dubious origins where the sender has not been identified.

·         Delete emails or mark them as spam to prevent other users or company employees being affected by these threats.

·         Keep security solutions updated to detect the latest threats that are spreading.

·         Perform up-to-date backups of your information.

Mitigating such attacks is no simple task, and you need to take a proactive stance by supporting security technology with awareness and education.

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Wannacry still alive

One and a half years after its epidemic, WannaCry ransomware tops the list of the most widespread cryptor families and the ransomware has attacked 74,621 unique users worldwide.

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These attacks accounted for 28.72% of all users targeted by cryptors in Q3 2018. The percentage has risen over the last year, demonstrating more than two thirds growth against Q3 2017, when its share in cryptor attacks was 16.78%. This is just one of the main findings from Kaspersky Lab’s Q3 IT threat evolution report. 

A series of cyberattacks with WannaCry cryptor occurred in May 2017 and is still considered to be one of the biggest ransomware epidemics in history. Even though Windows released a patch for its operating system to close the vulnerability exploited by EternalBlue 2 months prior to the start of the attacks, WannaCry still affected hundreds of thousands devices around the globe. As cryptors do, WannaCry turned files on victims’ computers into encrypted data and demanded ransom for decryption keys (created by threat actors to decipher the files and transform them back into the original data) making it impossible to operate the infected device.

The consequences of the WannaCry epidemic were devastating: as the victims were mainly organisations with networked systems – the work of businesses, factories and hospitals was paralysed. Even though this case demonstrated the dangers cryptors pose, and most of PCs around the world have been updated to resist the EternalBlue exploit, the statistics show that criminals still try to exploit those computers that weren’t patched and there are still plenty of them around the globe.

Overall, Kaspersky Lab security solution protected 259,867 unique users from cryptors attacks, showing a substantial rise of 39% since Q2 2018, when the figure was 158,921. The growth was rapid yet steady, with a monthly observed increase in the number of users.

The rising share of WannaCry attacks is another reminder that epidemics don’t end as fast as they start – there are always long-running consequences. In the case of cryptors, attacks can be so severe that it is necessary to take preventive measures and patch the device, rather than deal with encrypted files later,” said Fedor Sinitsyn, security researcher at Kaspersky Lab.

 To reduce the risk of infection by WannaCry and other cryptors, users are advised to:

  • Always update your operating system to eliminate recent vulnerabilities and use a robust security solution with updated databases. It is also important to use the security solution that has specialised technologies to protect your data from ransomware, as Kaspersky Lab’s solutions do. Even if the newest yet unknown malware does manage to sneak through, Kaspersky Lab’s System Watcher technology is able to block and roll back all malicious changes made on a device, including the encryption of files.
  • If you have bad luck and all your files are encrypted with cryptomalware, it is not recommended to pay cybercriminals, as it encourages them to continue their dirty business and infect more people’s devices. It is better to find a decryptor on the Internet – some of them are available for free here: https://noransom.kaspersky.com/

·         It is also important to always have fresh backup copies of your files to be able to replace them in case they are lost (e.g. due to malware or a broken device), and store them not only on the physical object but also in cloud storage for greater reliability (don’t forget to protect your cloud storage with strong hack-proof password!)

·         If you’re a business, enhance your preferred third-party security solution with the newest version of the free Kaspersky Anti-Ransomware Tool.

·         To protect the corporate environment, educate your employees and IT teams, keep sensitive data separate, restrict access, and always back up everything.

·         Use a dedicated security solution, such as Kaspersky Endpoint Security for Business that is powered by behaviour detection and able to roll back malicious actions. It should also include Vulnerability and Patch management features that automatically eliminates vulnerabilities and installs updates. This reduces the risk of vulnerabilities in popular software being used by cybercriminals.

·         Last, but not least, remember that ransomware is a criminal offence. You shouldn’t pay. If you become a victim, report it to your local law enforcement agency.

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Bots to mind your business

From Public Service to the Private Sector, everyone stands to benefit from bots, says RIAAN BEKKER, Force Solutions Manager at thryve.

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Every day billions of us talk to each other on IM channels such as Whatsapp and Facebook Messenger. We have an expectation for immediate answers and easy access to information, be it business operating times or where our couriered package is right now. Bots are perfectly aligned for that, as they can interact with popular chat services and provide human-friendly conversations to resolve queries both inside and outside the business.

“Software bots can do a lot,” said Riaan Bekker, Force Solutions Manager at thryve. “You can integrate them with your CRM to handle customer enquiries, such as finding an order status or applying for an ID book. They are also being used inside organisations for repetitive but necessary roles, such as managing meeting room requests or finding contact information from the internal address book. There’s a new use for them every day because they can take care of basic tasks that normally would require a human. That frees up people to focus on more complex problems and demanding customer needs.”

But bots sound like science fiction. How are they suddenly a reality in our world? The answer lies with modern software platforms.

In the past companies had to invest in expensive and elaborate IT projects that took years to implement with meagre results. Today any business can access a cloud platform at low cost, start training bots using the platform’s built-in AI and bot services, and expand as they manage demand. One of the most remarkable modern advances is the improvement of artificial intelligence, which benefits from the tremendous amount of information contained in Big Data and the convenient scaling power of cloud systems.

“Something many people don’t release is that the hard part – getting the software and infrastructure – is now quick and very affordable. You can start very small and adapt as demand grows. The new challenge is actually training the bot: like a new employee, you have to get the bot’s skills to match your business’ needs. But that’s a great problem to have, because all the barriers to get there, like costs, are no longer an issue.”

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