Be careful Your PC Isn’t Held for Ransom

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Robert Siciliano

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Computerworld reported that a hacker threatened to expose health data and demanded $10 million from a government agency. The alleged ransom note posted on the Virginia DHP Prescription Monitoring Program site claimed that the hacker had backed up and encrypted more than 8 million patient records and 35 million prescriptions and then deleted the original data. “Unfortunately for Virginia, their backups seem to have gone missing, too.” “Uh oh,” posted the hacker.

Holding data hostage is sometimes done using “ransomware” Otherwise known as “ransom software.” The software gets on your PC as the result of you downloading an infected attachment or clicking the links in the body of an email. Sometimes you can get ransomware simply by visiting a website in what’s called a “drive-by.”

Once your PC is infected with ransomeware it locks down your files in a way that prevents you from accessing them and gives the bad guy full control of your machine.  Sometimes the virus poses as a “Browser Security and Anti-adware” security application whose license has expired. Windows machines infected by the malware are confronted by a full-screen message that poses as a Windows error.

This type of an exploit not common, but it’s definitely a rising star in the malware community. The best way to avoid this is to make sure your PC is updated with the most current version of your operating system, and anti-virus definitions. It’s also very important not to click on links in the body of an email or visit rogue websites that may have viruses that inject themselves into your browser.

Robert Siciliano personal security expert to Home Security Source discussing Ransomware on Fox Boston.

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