NWA-PCUG Newsletter Article, September 2006


Ransom Viruses?
by Jack Matisoff
From August 2006 Boca Bits, The Boca Raton Computer Society, Inc.

Do You Know About "Ransom-Viruses?"

Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant reports a new type of Trojan horse virus was found circulating. It is one of only a few viruses so far that have asked for a ransom in exchange for releasing control of a computer. He has sent a copy to Sophos, a security vendor for investigation.

These schemes had been seen in Russia, but the first one appeared in English just last month.

How this viurs is being spread is not clear, but is being investigated. Viruses, of course, can be spread in several ways, including through spam or a so-called drive-by download that exploits browser vulnerability when a user visits a malicious Web site.

Once run, this Trojan freezes the computer, displaying a message saying files are being deleted every 30 minutes. It then gives instructions on how to send $10.99 via Western Union to free the computer.

Hitting the control, alt, and delete keys will not affect the bug, the virus writer warns. Sophos anti-virus reports provide further details at its Web site.

Some of these virus writers even offer tech support, Cluley said. If the method of unlocking the computer doesn't work after the money is sent, the virus writer promises to research the problem and includes an e-mail address.

Last month, a Trojan emerged that encrypts a user's documents and then leaves a file demanding $300 in exchange for the password to access the information. Victims were instructed to send money to one of 99 accounts run by e-gold, a company that runs a money transfer site.

The password, however, was contained on the infected computer. Sophos cracked it and publicly released it.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Please be SURE that your entire computer, not only your e-mail, is protected against viruses and spy ware. AND, do your computer maintenance on a regular basis.

Click here to return to top