Earlier this week, the Department of Justice revealed that it had broken a massive hacking scheme and taken over the computer servers that spread two major types of malware about which I have warned you previously. The two types of malware are GameOverZeus and Cryptolocker. GameOverZeus steals banking information from victims’ computer which the hackers then used to empty their victims’ bank accounts. Cryptolocker is a particularly insidious type of malware that when installed on the victim’s computer encrypts all of the data contained on the computer. After the encryption was accomplished, the criminals then notified the victim that their data would be destroyed unless a ransom payment was made. This type of malware, has, appropriately been deemed ransomware. Law enforcement officials estimate that as much as 100 million dollars was stolen by the gang operating these malware programs through a botnet. Members of the gang included Russians, Ukrainians and British criminals. Through the joint efforts of the FBI and law enforcement agencies in ten other countries, the computer servers of the hackers were seized and the alleged ringleader of the group, Russian Evgeniy Bogachev was indicted. American authorities are in contact with Russian authorities to have Bogachev extradited to the United States for trial.
This story is important for many reasons. Certainly is not only good to see law enforcement cracking criminal hacking crimes, but also seeing international cooperation in the law enforcement effort. However, ultimately, law enforcement is not going to be able to prevent you from becoming a victim of hackers seeking to steal from you through the use of malware such as GameOverZeus and Cryptolocker. Instead the burden of protecting you from these attacks falls on all of us individually. In all cases, these malware programs ultimately found their way to their victims’ computers when the victims invited them in by clicking on tainted links in emails or downloaded tainted attachments from phishing emails. The first line of defense is not to ever click on emails or download attachments unless you are absolutely sure that they are legitimate. You should also make sure that you have constantly updated anti-virus software and anti-malware software on all of your electronic devices.
The United States Department of Homeland Security has issued a warning about the GameOverZeus malware that contains links to a number of effective anti-malware programs that can help protect your computer and other electronic devices from infection and remove the infection if it occurs. Here is a link to that warning which, in turn, contains a link to the anti-malware software programs: https://www.us-cert.gov/ncas/alerts/TA14-150A