New ransomware takes hold

New ransomware has been taking hold of businesses and households around the world. Be very careful with the email attachments that you open, although this is probably only the first wave; they will find other ways to get to you.

What’s new about this virus then? This virus; actually it is a malware strain named ransomware, named that for a very good reason, is an example of modern encryption done right. They have created a perfect system that can encrypt your data using public key technology that cannot be cracked!!

How does it work? Well, at the moment you get an email about something that is relevant to you (that’s how they trick you in to opening the attachment, or clicking the link). Once the software is running, it quickly establishes a connection to its command and control server, where it generates a random encryption key specifically for your system. This type of encryption is particularly cleaver as the key that encrypts it cannot be used to decrypt it without the other part that is held on the command and control server (it never gets sent to your computer, so there is no record of it for you to find). it then searches your computer and network, any backup drives you have access to, in fact, any resource that contains user created or user data and encrypts them all! Any evidence of the key locally is then destroyed and a page pops up to inform the user that they have been robbed! It can show you a list of the files you once had so that you can verify the threat is real and then gives you the ultimatum of pay $300 or 300 of your local currency or lose your data, you have 72 hours to make your mind up. After 72 hours have passed the only key that could decrypt your data, which is on the command and control server, is deleted, permanently!

If you do not have any backups of your data and you need it, then you have no choice but to pay up, and thousands of people and businesses have done so. They have also been very cleaver with the payment method as they cannot be tracked through the payment either. When law enforcement find the servers and take them offline, the only people hurt are the people who now cannot get their data back. The ad guys have their command and control servers moving around and are not needed for the payment loop; they just create and hold the keys to your data.

The other point on this is that they seems to have written the encryption part exceptionally well, not so good is the decryption side of the program with reports that not all and in some cases none of the data is returned and there is nothing you can do to get it back.

Be careful and watch this space as it will only get worse!!