The Rise of Ransomware

While it isn't exactly new, security experts issued a warning over the rise of "ransomware" - a type of computer malware that hijacks your computer and and won't let you use it unless you cough up the dough:

Turning hijacked computers into cash is still hard work for most computer criminals. They've got to trick the infected PC into sending spam, then trick a recipient into buying a useless product -- or they have to steal online banking passwords, log onto a victim’s account, bypass the bank’s money transfer fraud controls, and so on.

It's much easier to just demand cash directly from infected users -- a crime that's the Internet's equivalent of kidnapping.

"Give me all your money or your computer gets it-" is the basic proposition. [...]

Luis Corrons Granel, a researcher at Panda Security, said use of ransomware by criminals is exploding -- 25 percent of all rogueware in the past quarter involved a family of intimidating products named "TotalAntivirus.” It demands that users pay $50 for two years, $79 for a lifetime license. [...]

To an average user, most rogueware would be indistinguishable from other standard antivirus products. They look like fully functional software, showing Windows-like screens for firewall settings, file scanning, and every other tab you'd expect from standard antivirus products. “Total Security” even lets users choose their language -- English, Spanish, and German are offered.

http://redtape.msnbc.com/2010/01/turning-hijacked-computers-into-cash-is-still-hard-work-for-most-computer-criminals-theyve-got-to-trick-the-infected-pc-into.html


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@ Cola

I agree. I never see any articles warning me of the viruses out there for my macs. I know they must be there. But like chad blurted, it's not because macs are safer, just fewer. Still, it would be nice to know. Does anyone know where mac users can go to find out?
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I'm actually kinda surprised to find a mention of TotalAntivirus here. My grandparents just got that one about a week and a half ago. It's a good thing they called me to ask why their desktop was being hijacked by a legitimate sounding software. Based on my research it is a very nasty bugger to fight off.
The more people know about these things the better, but it also pays to be skeptical.
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@ the mac fanboys trying so hard to start a flame war. when there is a security hole exposed for a windows os it gets alot of press simply because of the popularity of the product. mac security holes go largely un-noticed mainly because of apples much smaller market share. this is also why there are less viruses for mac os than there are for windows platforms. what kind of hacker would they be if the decided to target only 10% of computers out there? this is one of the many myth's that continuously get brought up in the mac vs pc war. its childish and just plain untrue. there are virus's for mac os. I could link you to some reputable mac os antivirus software suites if you'd like. keep on believing that your mac is impenetrable and you will be shocked at just how wrong you are if apple ever gets a larger share of the market and becomes a more tempting target for hackers :-)
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