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NetSafe NZ warns of new ransomware threat following three attacks today

CryptoLocker malware has hit consumers, small business people - who have to pay around $500 to get locked up computer files decrypted.

NBR Staff
Wed, 11 Dec 2013

Kiwis are again being targetted by ransomware - software that installs itself on your computer after you click on a malicious email attachment, then encrypts your files. If you want to read them again, you have to cough up.

"We're possibly seeing the start of a new wave of ransomware called CryptoLocker which is particularly nasty," NetSafe cybersecurity programme manager Chris Hails tells NBR.

"It has the potential to cost the average victim $500 if they have to resort to buying half a bitcoin to decrypt their files"

NetSafe has had three reports since this morning, with both home users and small business people falling victim to the malware - which usually arrives in the form of an email attachment that purports to be an invoice (Mr Hails has blogged on how to spot a malicious email attachment here and NetSafe has a full guide to Cryptolocker here.

"In short, if you're on an older PC and haven't patched your OS and software there's the potential for your files to be encrypted with the only option being to pay 0.5 bitcoin to the cybercriminals, currently around $500, to get the private key back you need to decrypt your data," Mr Hails says.

"I feel like the boy who cried wolf, constantly banging the drum for updating and making backups. We know it's a boring safety message and there are far more fun things to do in the middle of the party season but I've spoken with two people affected today and it's hard work to always be sat in the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff.

"The overall message remains don't click on unexpected attachments and keep your computer up to date and protected.

M Hails recommends reading The 'Tight 5' from earlier this year.

"Take 15 minutes to security check your computer to save yourself a $500 shock," he says.

NBR Staff
Wed, 11 Dec 2013
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NetSafe NZ warns of new ransomware threat following three attacks today