Ransomware attacks like CryptoLocker have been plaguing users for a while now. The recent shutdown of the Gameover Zeus botnet has led to a dramatic decline in these types of attacks, but you can expect that cybercriminals will regroup and launch new ones soon enough. But KnowBe4, a company that offers security awareness training, is so confident it can teach users to protect themselves, it's offering to pay the ransom if a customer falls victim to a ransomware scheme.
Ransomware attacks like CryptoLocker compromise a PC by encrypting all of its data (and possibly all data on connected external or network drives as well) and holding it ransom. The attackers demand payment—often in the form of Bitcoin which is more difficult to trace—in exchange for providing the key necessary decryption key.
The FBI estimates that more than 200,000 users have been affected by ransomware, including CryptoLocker, CryptoDefense, and CryptoBit—accounting for somewhere in the neighborhood of $30 million worth of ransom payments in the last quarter of 2013 alone.
The U.S. Department of Justice announced today that the Gameover Zeus (GOZ) botnet has been taken down in an effort dubbed “Operation Tovar.” The action was the result of a multinational effort between government agencies, law enforcement, and private companies to shut down the massive botnet responsible for more than $100 million in losses for victims. The cooperation necessary to take down the botnet is impressive, but there will be more, and it’s important for individuals to understand how to avoid falling victim to these threats.
CrowdStrike is one of the private companies that was heavily involved in Operation Tovar, and it worked with the United Kingdom’s National Crime Agency, the FBI, Europol, global law enforcement, and other players in the private sector. Adam Meyers, VP of intelligence at CrowdStrike, described the results of Operation Tovar. “Over 500,000 infected machines were effectively disconnected from criminal control,” he said. “The actors behind GOZ and Cryptolocker, which were both impacted by the recent actions, have done significant damage against unsuspecting victims.”
When it rains it pours for eBay. Less than a week after the popular website revealed it was the victim of a massive data breach and directed users to change their passwords, researchers have discovered that it is vulnerable to serious flaws that could allow an attacker to access user accounts. Individuals need to know how to guard against falling victim to these security issues, and other businesses need to learn from eBay’s mistakes and do a better job of protecting resources on the Web.
The flaw in question is a cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerability discovered by a 19-year-old college student in the United Kingdom. An XSS flaw can allow an attacker to inject malicious code into an otherwise legitimate website. The attacker can intercept a user’s session cookie enabling them to gain access to the user’s account and interact with the site as that user.