The National Crime Agency have announced that online users have two weeks to prepare for a “powerful cyber attack”. Two pieces of malware software known as GOZeuS and CryptoLocker are at the centre of this alert and are reported to be responsible for hundreds of millions of pounds of fraud globally.
At The PC Support Group, we’re putting together an action plan to best protect our customers
All computer users are being warned to ensure their security software and operating system are both up to date, and to run scans to check for any problems. Important files should also be backed up.
How does the virus attack your computer?
Basically, it’s being spread via e-mail with links or attachments that may look like they have been sent by genuine contacts and may purport to carry invoices, voicemail messages, or any file made to look innocuous. If a user clicks on one of them, the malware silently monitors activity and tries to capture any private information, such as banking details. It’s very hard for antivirus software to protect you against this as by opening the attachment the virus has been ‘invited in’, plus it changes it’s disguise, sometimes as quickly as antivirus companies can send out their updates.
These emails are generated by other victims’ computers, who do not realise they are infected, and are used to send mass emails. This is sometimes why a computer can run slowly when it’s infected.
The second threat comes from the Cryptolocker malware, activated if the first attack is not profitable enough. It locks a user out of their files, for example photos or music, and threatens to delete them unless a “ransom” of several hundred pounds is paid.
More than 15,500 computers in the UK are infected and “many more” are at risk, according to the NCA. A senior NCA investigator said “It’s there purely for the criminals to harvest your money direct from your bank account, or by demanding a ransom to get your files back.”
So what can be done?
Well – action taken now to strengthen online safety can be particularly effective.
You now have a chance to clean up. The first thing you should do is update your operating system – especially if you’re on Windows, then look to scan your computer for viruses and it should be able to find it.
Our full BusinessCare plan, with the optional managed antivirus and managed backup installed on each computer that holds data will be a fantastic help right now. It’s up to computer users to ensure they are backing up their data files (including those financial documents and precious photos) as an infection may destroy them, or at least hold them to ransom to the tune of hundreds of pounds before they can be recovered.
If you are a BusinessCare customer of The PC Support Group with our managed antivirus and managed backup service on each computer we will do this for you. Whilst we can’t guarantee you will be protected, we will take care of carrying out all the precautions you need to reduce the risk to the minimum, just leave your computer on each Monday night as usual
We must emphasise though, that the nature of the threat means that the best way to prevent infection is to ensure you and all the people around you are extremely vigilant about not opening emails they don’t recognise or that have any sort of attachment. As stated earlier, that’s how infection occurs and it can bypass all known protection software by varying its appearance.
Why is an anti-virus package not a guarantee of protection?
Well, if you think about the annual flu jab – it can help to reduce risk of infection but it can’t guarantee prevention because new strains of flu virus come out each year before new vaccines can be developed to counter them. So it is with anti-virus packages! You will still need to do whatever you can to avoid the virus in the first place.
If you have the SLIGHTEST DOUBT – don’t click on a link or attachment in an e-mail.
If you need our assistance or would like to take out a BusinessCare package to maximise your protection call our support line on 03300 886 116 – we can set you up with weekly health checks, anti-virus and secure backups.