Nowadays these emails come from addresses pretending to be your bank, huge organisations or Government Bodies. These can be spotted usually by looking at the subject line (for order numbers that are incorrect or notification of a tax rebate) or the address it was sent from being incorrect or unfamiliar to the normal ones used.
Zeus was not thenice God Disney would have you believe
However, sometimes malignant emails come from contacts we have in our address books. This week the NCA (National Crime Agency) issued a warning that we have a little under two weeks to protect our computers, and ourselves, against two powerful pieces of software; CryptoLocker and – the aptly named – GOZeuS (Zeus was not the nice God Disney would have you believe, just ask Prometheus). So far these two viruses have fraudulently transferred millions of pounds into the accounts of cyber criminals. Once these viruses infect your computer (via a Trojan link or attachment in an email you open) it can send emails containing the Trojan links to all of your contacts (infecting more computers) and monitor everything you do – some reports have even suggest they can gain control of your webcam…
ransoming your data for anywhere between £200 to £300
Once infected, your PC will be joined onto a network of other infected PCs known as a BotNet where your activity is monitored. What makes these viruses so profitable to the criminals is that they work together. If GOZeuS is unable to find information on your PC that will make a good enough profit, the CryptoLocker will take over. CryptoLocker works by encrypting and locking your files without your knowing, until you get a popup that is essentially ransoming your data for anywhere between £200 to £300 – what do you think the chances are that your files will actually be unlocked if you pay up? Exactly.
To keep yourself and your data safe please take the following precautions – make sure your security software is installed on all of your PCs and fully updated, run scans on your PC and check your operating systems and applications are all up to date and that you have an effective backup system in place with a good retention period.
warning signs to look out for
Some warning signs to look out for include; your operating system running very slowly, unauthorised logins to accounts or unauthorised money transfers and your curser moving around erratically with no input from yourself. It has been suggested that over 15,500 computers in the UK are currently infected so the sooner you address your security systems, the better.
However, if your PC has already been infected with CryptoLocker and GOZeuS it is too late, this is when a good retention period on the backup system you have in place will come in handy. If you have to buy new PCs etc, you will be able to restore all of the information you have backed up to before your PC was infected.
If you believe you have lost money due to malware you can report your loss to Action Fraud at www.actionfraud.police.uk or call 0300 123 2040.
Potentially Malicious Emails 5/6/2014