Latest Malware Cyberscam Holds Your Hard Drive for Ransom

Feb 19 2014, 6:45pm CST | by

Latest Malware Cyberscam Holds Your Hard Drive for Ransom
Photo Credit: Forbes Business

While I was locked out of this site due to some malicious hacking, I had breakfast with a friend who is an expert on cyber security. His admonition: Everyone will be hacked, so get ready for it.

Remember the maxim “knowledge is power?” I’d like to amend that to say “information is capital.” The bits and bytes that cyberthieves are ripping off are worth billions on the black market.

There are sites where Social Security numbers and dates of birth are peddled. Credit card information is purloined. Medical data is stolen for vital identification numbers. This black market is a decentralized, 24/7 enterprise that respects no national boundaries, can’t be policed by armies and is growing by the minute.

The latest cyberscam that caught my eye goes one step further than theft: It holds your computer files for ransom. It’s like some brigand from a Third-World Country gains access to your hard drive, locks it up and demands money to unlock it. Normally, I’d say this was some kind of hoax, except that the FBI and U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) have issued a warning on this “Cryptolocker” scam:

* Cryptolocker is spread mostly through email and “drive-by” downloads.

* The email might look like a routine message from a legitimate company, like a tracking notice from a shipping company.

* If you click on the hyperlink in the email, Cryptolocker encrypts everything on your hard drive and in your shared folders.

* When the job is done, you get a “ransom note” demanding payment via Bitcoin or some other anonymous payment method.

* The criminals behind this malware say they’ll give you the encryption key if you pay, but they’re hardly trustworthy. And there’s no other way to unlock your files.

What can you do to avoid this crime?

* Regularly back up your files

* Don’t download anything you haven’t identified as something that’s legitimate.

* Don’t click on unknown links.

* Make sure your security software updates regularly.

* Don’t give out personal information unless it’s on an encrypted website.

* Change your passwords on a regular basis.

I’m  not saying that any one of these protective measures will fend off a hacking attack. I’ve been hacked numerous times and it’s no fun. But you can employ a number of safeguards that may slow these trolls down./>/>

John F. Wasik is the author of Keynes’s Way to Wealth: Timeless Investment Lessons from the Great Economist and 13 other books.  An investor protection advocate, he speaks and writes regularly on investing, economics and personal finance.

A Brief History of Apple Hacking

Source: Forbes Business


<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/30" rel="author">Forbes</a>
Forbes is among the most trusted resources for the world's business and investment leaders, providing them the uncompromising commentary, concise analysis, relevant tools and real-time reporting they need to succeed at work, profit from investing and have fun with the rewards of winning.


blog comments powered by Disqus

Latest stories

Amazon Black Friday 2015 Sale is Live: The Best Deals
Amazon Black Friday 2015 Sale is Live: The Best Deals
The Black Friday 2015 sale on Amazon is an 8 Day event.
Amazon Black Friday 2015 Deals Unveiled
Amazon Black Friday 2015 Deals Unveiled
The Black Friday 2015 Deals offered in the Amazon Black Friday 2015 Sale are here.
Sam&#039;s Club Holiday Savings Celebration Sale 2015 Kicked Off Online
Sam's Club Holiday Savings Celebration Sale 2015 Kicked Off Online
The Sam's Club sale on Saturday November 14 is the first big Black Friday 2015 sale of the year and the Black Friday deals are online now ahead of the stores opening.
Find Hot Black Friday 2015 Deals
Find Hot Black Friday 2015 Deals
The Black Friday 2015 Ads are rolling advertising the Black Friday 2015 deals.