Cyber Security Expert Reports On Impending Cyber Attack
11th June 2014
In the past week, there have been reports in the news about an expected cyber-attack.
This has led to computer users being urged to protect their machines from malware which will allow hackers to steal financial data. CYFOR Director of Forensics, Keith Cottenden, reports on the potential danger this poses to businesses:
Cause of the alert
“Two pieces of malware, known as ‘GOZeuS’ and ‘CryptoLocker’, are responsible for this alert. They typically infect a computer via email attachments or links in email messages, which may look like they have been sent by genuine contacts and may purport to carry innocuous files or links.
“If a user clicks on the ‘GOZeuS’ malware it will silently monitor user activity and try to capture information such as bank details, etc. The ‘CryptoLocker’ malware is activated if the first attack is not profitable enough. This is where users are locked from their files and threatened with their deletion unless a ransom is paid.
“These email messages are generated by other victims’ computers, who do not realise that they are part of a cybercrime botnet being used to send mass emails, creating more victims.”
Threats to businesses
“This malware has already infected computer systems, but the recent law enforcement activity has disrupted the machines that control the operation of the cybercrime botnet. With these servers not functioning, the cyber criminals should temporarily be unable to manage the computers that have been hijacked.
“This threat applies to businesses as much as home users, and business computer systems could be part of the same cybercrime botnet. If a user is likely to click on an attachment or link at home, then they are also liable to click on it at work. All businesses are vulnerable, but those with a comprehensive security infrastructure will be better equipped to deal with these attacks before the user has an opportunity to activate the malware.”
What should Businesses do?
“All computer users are being urged to make sure that this malware has not infected their machines. These mostly affect the Windows operating system, although it’s worth being vigilant when it comes to cyber security regardless of your operating system. In general:
- Make sure your Windows operating system is fully updated with patches from Microsoft. You should also check if any updates exist for your system.
- Download and run the specific clean-up tools to make sure your system is clean and malware free http://www.getsafeonline.org/nca/
- For ongoing protection, ensure that you are running effective and up to date anti-virus software, and do not turn off any obvious security measures.
- Spread the message to make sure your family, friends and social circles are aware of the risks whilst there is the opportunity to avoid problems if you act quickly.
- Make sure you keep backup copies of important data (documents/pictures/music/video, etc.). Consider alternative storage solutions for precious data.
- Seek expert advice if you are not sure what to do. Doing nothing could easily cause you problems later.”