Upsurge in Kiwis hit by 'ransomware'
"Test your backups periodically by restoring the data and comparing it to the source."Featured comment
NBR contacted NetSafe this morning to see how the internet safety agency was dealing with Yahoo Xtra fallout (see its reaction on that front here).
The part-funded watchdog was run off its feet last week, National Cyber Security Initiative (NCSI) head Chris Hails said - but not by any issue related to Telecom's email security meltdown but an upsurge in (completely unrelated) "ransomware" attacks.
In a ransomwar attack, hackers typically infiltrate your PC via the internet, block access to your files, then demand money for an unlock code.
"We're receiving a couple of requests for assistance with ransomware each day - and our partners including the police have also noted an increase in reports," CEO Martin Cocker told NBR.
Antivirus and security software companies send hysterical alerts about this-and-that on an almost daily basis.
But NetSafe - a non-profit part-funded by the government - gives a clear indication of threats that are actually hitting everyday Kiwis.
"We understand there are about 30 variants of the ransomware which fall into two categories," Mr Cocker told NBR ONLINE this morning.
"One type blocks access to your PC, and pops up a message telling you it has done so. These variants are becoming increasingly complex but many can still be bypassed to regain access to the PC. The other type is quite nasty and encrypts all the data on your drive. Some of these also encrypt the data on any connected backup systems. The encrypted data cannot be recovered."
Don't pay up
Mr Cocker also has a warning for those who have been hit, and are thinking about coughing up the money demanded by the hackers who have hijacked their PC.
"In truth, these are not ransoms. They are a scam. People who pay the 'ransom' will not receive the unlock codes," the NetSafe CEO says.
Basic precautions are the same as for any other malicious attack. Make sure your sercurity and antivirus software on your PC is up to date. Small business owners should also ensure that all software on their servers are up to date.
NetSafe has more tips here.