Spanish police arrested a gang of cyber criminals who were extorting as much as one million euros a year ($1.3m) using ransomware.
The leader of the gang, a 27-year old Russian, was arrested while on holiday in Dubai in December. Ten other gang members six Russians, two Ukrainians and two Georgians, who were apparently responsible for laundering proceeds of the scam, were arrested in Spain.
The cyber crime used a malware that was first seen in 2005, although the gang adapted it to target end users in 30 countries. The ransomware, known as Reveton, was tailored to look like a message from different police authorities, which would freeze the user PC until they paid a fine of 100 euros for accessing file sharing, child pornography or terrorist sites.
The money was laundered through PaySafeCard/UKash vouchers, with the ransom paid in the US, transferred to the gang in Spain, and laundered and the proceeds wired to Russia.
Trend Micro’s eCrimes unit was heavily involved in the investigation, which the company warns is ongoing, and that the Reveton malware is still in the wild.
Ransomware becoming more rampant
Anybody who has owned a computer for a long enough time knows how pesky, irritating, and sometime downright debilitating computer viruses can be, and from worms to Trojan horses, it seems like there is no end to the dangers that are out there on the internet. Unfortunately, a new virus is on the prowl that not only locks up your computer, but that accuses you of committing felony crimes and prompts you to pay a legal fine to be able to use your computer again.
What is it? Ransomware, has been around since 1989. Ransomware is set apart from other types of viruses because of the way that it will lock down a computer and demand that the user provides payment for the problem to be resolved. The newer forms of this ransomware are claiming that they are from legitimate government entities and companies and give you links for the users to access first in order to solve this problem and they have certifications as they work with IT companies and coercing users to pay the ransom not just to unlock their computer, but also to clear their name of crimes they never committed.
The FBI virus
One of the newer virus variants is colloquially being called the “FBI Virus”, because the infection dupes users into thinking that they are being contacted by the FBI. Essentially, a pop-up appears displaying your IP address, your internet connection info, an FBI seal, and the message that you have violated federal law and must now pay a legal fine to keep from being arrested. Some reports are quoting that this “legal fine” ranges anywhere from $200 to $400, and that the crimes being cited deal with illegally downloading music, games, and movies. Newer variants have become even more sinister than that.
Child pornography accusations
In Germany, one of the newest forms of this ransomware is accusing users of viewing child pornography. Instead of using false FBI credentials, the distributers are using a pop-up that looks like it came from Germany’s Federal Office for Information Security, and even displays a picture a child which “proves” to the user that the “agency” has found illegal material on the computer. The director of security research at Trend Micro has claimed that this was the first time he’d seen a virus displaying images and accusing users of downloading them, upping the emotional ante and pressuring users to pay.
Agencies around the world are warning users against ransomware, warning that law enforcement agencies are not sending pop-up messages to let you know that you’re breaking the law. In fact, the Better Business Bureau says that if you are caught doing anything illegal, you usually won’t be warned by law enforcement agencies at all, and that you definitely won’t be contacted via a pop-up. Better that you focus on getting your computer fixed by a legitimate PC repair company than paying the ransom.
Germany’s BKA, in response to the child pornography ransomware, said that users should not relinquish payment to the fine/ransom “under any circumstances”, advice echoed by various other law enforcement agencies. Besides going to the local PC shop, users should use security software such as anti-virus and anti-spyware to clean up the PC’s drive and to prevent infections from happening in the future. by Charles Trentham
McAfee predicts that ransomware “kits” designed around mobile technology will rise, allowing people without advanced programming skills to be able to more easily attempt to extort money out of the general public, especially through the Windows PC platform, which saw reported attacks triple in 2012. Ransomware differs from backdoors, keyloggers or Trojans as it “locks” a system, leaving users without the means to access their data or system. This is where the malicious software comes in; pay up or potentially lose your data. McAfee said in the report. “Now the first ransomware kits are being marketed in the underground and for the moment the kits attack only Windows systems, but this may change soon.”
I guess we are all at risk in many ways? as end user of these devices and we live in the information age where we depend on utilizing many of these devices to communicate with our families, friends, associates and the world on many of these social networking sites and the kind of work we do is all based on communication & accessing the Internet. From an end point safety solution there is a need for us to also protect many innocent humanity as they utilize their devices and access Internet in many parts of the developing countries……………is there a solution? catch my work at @mymulticast
More Cyber Attacks Targeting Smart Phones, Tablets | Watch the video http://news.yahoo.com/video/more-cyber-attacks-targeting-smart-043600548.html