'Ransomware' likely hitting jackpot with bitcoin surge

By VCPOST Staff Reporter

Nov 27, 2013 09:04 PM EST

Cryptolocker thieves are most likely raking in cash with the surge of the Bitcoin value. Cryptolocker is a type of malware that has affected thousands of computers in the UK and forced victims to pay up in exchange of their data, Forbes said.

Cryptolocker is also known as ransomware. The malware makes its way onto computers and threatens to permanently encrypt the user's files. IT is spread via fake business e-mails, phoney FedEx and UPS tracking notices, or bank communication. These emails target small businesses' Windows files. The malware can also spread to other machines via shared network and thumb drives, the report explained.

Today, ransomware is already making its way to the US and is collecting higher ransom payments via Bitcoin. The virtual currency today broke a new all-time high price USD1,000. This means the ransomware perpetrators are hitting the jackpot, too, the report said.

Uttang Dawda of security software company FireEye has been studying the malware since last month. According to him, Cryptolocker is a more sophisticated kind of a phishing attack. It has the capacity to get past antivirus programs. He also said it appears that the malware appear to to be based in Russia and is using infected zombie computers to spam e-mails with infected links, the report said.

Just last week, a Massachussetts police department admitted to paying a ransom to Cryptolocker in the Bitcoin currency. The Cryptolocker ransom is now up at 2 Bitcoin (around USD2,000 today), the report added.

Dawda said: "The best solution would to be not get infected. You need to educate users not to infect themselves. It's not a security update but user education."

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