New SpyWare Holding Computer users to Ransome

May 24 13:31 2005 Print This Article

Ransom Ware Coming To A Computer Near You.
Apparently computer users have something new to worry about in the form of what’s fast becoming known as “ransom ware.”

Hackers have found a way to lock up documents on your computer, then will demand money to hand over the key code. In one recent attack, an unidentified corporate customer of San Diego’s Websense Inc. found encrypted files including important spreadsheets, pictures and other documents along with a ransom note.

The note left an email address, and the attacker used that address to demand $200 for the digital key code to unlock the encrypted files.

Joe Stewart, a researcher at Chicago’s Lurhq Corp., studied the ransom ware. “This seems fully malicious,” he said. While he did manage to unlock the infected computer files without having to pay the ransom, there is a worry that future versions of this software will be more difficult to overcome. Hackers commonly learn not to repeat the mistakes of earlier versions when revising, and the evolution of the software becomes increasingly difficult to crack.Related source.Network Detection Intrusion(NIDS)

This just adds to the list of tiring and frustrating attacks that many internet users must face on a daily basis. Viruses, worms, spyware and phishing attacks now are just the tip of an ever-growing iceberg.

While the FBI thinks this is just an isolated scheme, there is no knowing how many people have been affected thus far. The latest cases have resulted from visiting vandalized internet websites using a vulnerable browser. The resulting lock of up to 15 kinds of files is heralded by a note. When the email address in that note is contacted, the hacker demands $200 for the key code which unlocks the newly encrypted files.

The site has been shut down, and there hasn’t been a widespread report of ransom ware. And because bank transactions are easily traced, the hacker’s greed could be his downfall.

“You’ve got to send the money somewhere,” Stewart said. “…It’s far easier to trace than an email account.”

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