The National Crime Agency is urging members of the public to take action which will help fight the effects of two specific cyber threats.
In a globally co-ordinated awareness campaign, crime fighting forces in the UK, along with the FBI and collaborators in a number of other countries are encouraging members of the public to take steps which will not only help protect themselves from risk, but also cause significant disruption to the effectiveness of the network which supports the malware around the World.
According to the National Crime Agency, GOZeuS and CryptoLocker are two systems estimated to be responsible for the loss of hundreds of millions of pounds globally. While the two systems are distinct in the way they operate, they both take advantage of security holes on a user's computer.
Put as simply as possible, GOZeuS operates by sending emails to ‘victims’, seemingly from a familiar contact (so they look genuine), but which contain links to the malware. Once the link has been clicked, the malware is downloaded and then operates in the background, waiting for the opportunity to collect banking or personal information. This information is fed back to the criminals using a network of infected machines.
If GOZeuS considers the information it finds not to be financially rewarding, CryptoLocker in activated. This system encrypts the files on the machine and then offers to unlock them in return for payment – in essence a ransom for the release of the files.
The more members of the public that are able to take steps to protect their computers, the more chance there is of the network of infected computers (or BotNet) being disrupted and this in turn will help to reduce the effectiveness of both malware systems.
There are some simple steps that can be taken to help protect your computer – which also apply to general e-safety. These include: