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Published 3 June 2014

Adrian Fowler

Adrian Fowler
Managing Director

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GameOver Zeus & Cryptolocker

Is it really Gameover? That depends on you…

Computer users have been warned to take action to protect themselves and their businesses from cyber-attacks in what is becoming a global pandemic.

We’ve already seen the Cryptolocker virus at work last September with as much as $100 million being extorted from ‘customers’ who are left with their data encrypted unless they pay the 1 Bitcoin (approximately $300 USD) ransom to have it decrypted and restored. The irony being the perpetrators of this heinous crime are the same people you are paying to ‘repair’ your data. This type of malicious software (malware) is known as ransomware.

The latest one to hit our shores is called GameOver Zeus and has already plagued UK computers costing our economy millions.

How does this happen?

The virus spreads itself through the careless actions of users opening attachments. Often, the email containing the attachment is from a ‘trusted source’, i.e. some person you know who has been unknowingly infected by the same virus. An email is received from this trusted person containing an attachment that ‘you must open’, and once you do all hell breaks lose.

Unlike Cryptolocker which had one single agenda to encrypt your files and charge you an extortionate amount to decrypt them, GameOver Zeus has ‘added features’. Firstly, it will scan your computer for sensitive information, try and empty your bank accounts, infect your business email contacts and any other computers on your network. If it decides that it hasn’t done enough at that point, it will then encrypt your data and charge you a fortune to recover it. Chances are, you’ll end up paying as there is no way to recover or repair without the encryption key stored on their Servers. If you don’t pay – you’ll lose everything, if you do pay then what’s to stop them from doing it again?

What can you do to prevent this from happening?

Update your computer. If you have Microsoft Windows, make sure it is updated with the latest service packs and security updates. If you are running an obsolete version of Windows, update it to a currently supported one. Install a well-known and trusted antivirus product and make sure it is updated on a regular interval. Usually, they are set to check every hour or less for signature updates.

If you are running a business network of computers, make sure you do the same in your office and ensure everything is protected. Speak with your IT expert if you have one, get a second opinion if you are unsure. Inform your staff of the dangers of opening attachments, make sure they are absolutely sure the attachment contained within an email is expected and trusted before opening. Ensure your SPAM filters are working, up-to-date and are not relaxed to the point they are ineffective.

Call us on 01858 455426 if you need some help.

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