BBC News today reports of a computer virus (malware) that retrieves financial & personal information before encrypting your files and demanding a ransom, via Bitcoins, for the unlocking key.
The malware is named “Gameover Zeus” and is currently under investigation by the FBI, UK National Crime Agency and others, who have jointly issued an alert. It’s believed that all the servers used to control and distribute the malware are under control of the relevant authorities but this cannot be guaranteed.
Have I been infected?
If you’ve received a ransom demand, then most likely yes. It is, however, possible that rogue/fake ransoms may appear on websites or in emails.
I would however recommend that you update your anti-virus software to the latest version. Then run a FULL SCAN. This might occupy your PC for a few hours but that is better than any alternative.
Prevention is better than a cure
Keep your anti-virus software up to date, as well as the following:
- Flash/Shockwave Player
- Internet Explorer/Firefox/Chrome/other browser
- All Windows updates
These are regularly updated to repair vulnerabilities that could otherwise allow malware to infect your PC.
Run a backup of your documents/photos/music/videos on a weekly (preferably) or monthly basis and don’t leave the backup device (memory stick/external drive) plugged into the PC unless needed.
How many use the PC? Do they all need Administrator access? Admin access allows users to install programs (or websites to install programs using that user’s authority). No Admin access reduces the risk of malware being installed by removing that permission.
These measures will reduce the risk considerably, but not remove it completely. For that, disconnect the PC from the internet and leave it in a room with no human access.