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'Alarming' Rise In Ransomware Tracked (bbc.com) 48

An anonymous reader quotes a report from BBC: Cyber-thieves are adopting ransomware in "alarming" numbers, say security researchers. There are now more than 120 separate families of ransomware, said experts studying the malicious software. Other researchers have seen a 3,500% increase in the criminal use of net infrastructure that helps run ransomware campaigns. The rise is driven by the money thieves make with ransomware and the increase in kits that help them snare victims. Ransomware was easy to use, low risk and offered a high reward, said Bart Parys, a security researcher who helps to maintain a list of the growing numbers of types of this kind of malware. Mr Parys and his colleagues have now logged 124 separate variants of ransomware. Some virulent strains, such as Locky and Cryptolocker, were controlled by individual gangs, he said, but others were being used by people buying the service from an underground market. A separate indicator of the growth of ransomware came from the amount of net infrastructure that gangs behind the malware had been seen using. The numbers of web domains used to host the information and payment systems had grown 35-fold, said Infoblox in its annual report which monitors these chunks of the net's infrastructure. A lot of ransomware reached victims via spear-phishing campaigns or booby-trapped adverts, he said, but other gangs used specialized "crypters" and "packers" that made files look benign. Others relied on inserting malware into working memory so it never reached the parts of a computer on which most security software keeps an eye. Ars Technica reports that drive-by attacks that install the TeslaCrypt crypto ransomware are now able to bypass Microsoft's EMET.
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'Alarming' Rise In Ransomware Tracked

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  • by Hentes ( 2461350 ) on Tuesday June 07, 2016 @08:13AM (#52266567)

    Once you're hacked the bad guys can do a lot of nasty things to you and your data, shaking you for a few bitcoins if you don't have backups is pretty much the cheapest way you can find out about having a security hole. Data theft, APTs or even remote sabotage by a state agent can cause a lot more harm than ransomware, often without you even noticing. The spread of ransomware is actually very good for security, because it brings hidden vulnerabilities to light and associates an exact cost to them rather than for example the nebulous cost of losing sensitive data of costumers. Thus, ransomware alerts companies to vulnerabilities and bad backup practices, provides a financial incentive to fix those problems, all the while causing much less harm than the lack of those fixes would. Ransomware is doing more for security than a thousand conferences could.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 07, 2016 @08:29AM (#52266681)

      ...rather than for example the nebulous cost of losing sensitive data of costumers.

      This leaves me with the question of why costumers in particular hold all this sensitive data. Is it because they know the actual sizes of the models they make costumes for?

      • This leaves me with the question of why costumers in particular hold all this sensitive data.

        Well, being scary is a big part of their business, especially in October.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      This could be the event that forces Microsoft to dump the Windows core and adopt a professional *nix kernel. Their bread and butter is business licensing and when the risk of running Windows seriously threatens a business's profit (i.e. downtime, escalating infrastructure costs), we'll start seeing true legal action against Microsoft take place. No amount of EULA and contract disclaimers will keep the highest priced corporate lawyers at bay.

      Maybe they do see that the days having a proprietary and highly-b

      • by houstonbofh ( 602064 ) on Tuesday June 07, 2016 @11:12AM (#52267855)
        This is not a Windows thing. It is tricking someone into running a bit of software that with that users access only can lock all your data. If written for *nix, it would work on *nix.
      • by mspohr ( 589790 )

        Years of Windows vulnerabilities have not convinced Microsoft to switch to a more secure foundation (backwards compatibility would be a big problem).
        Customers (sheeple) don't seem to mind the problems. Those that do have already switched.
        I used to work for a large international organization which ran Windows. We did a lot of traveling to places with dodgy Windows infrastructure. My colleagues would always get infected (usually by USB). I installed Linux on my travel laptop and never had a problem. The HQ (S

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Once the bogeyman visits you? Next you'll tell us you believe in fairies too. And bad guys? You've just told us they're doing us a service. How can that be bad?

      I'm not sure what you're getting at, but being deliberately obtuse is something the "computer security industry" is pretty good at. Next to continuously "warning" and "alarming" and "advising" us with their tales of woe. What they're not good at is actually fixing the mess that they're promising to "protect" us against. Their "fixes" often as not are

      • Good backups means cryptoware is not a problem. It also means hard drive failure, malicious employees, and hackers deleting stuff is not a problem. And yet many people still do not have good backups. If the press from this means that most people end up making backups a priority, it will help lots more then people with cryptoware. This also works for teaching people not to click every damn thing, and so on.
    • I am not so much 'Alarmed' as I am 'Startled'

    • Yea! after this attack we improved our security. Too bad people died from the attack to learn the vulnerable locations.

      Many of these attacks are targets towards health care institutions as they are typically behind in security for various reasons.
      1. Expensive equipment - You are going to pay millions of dollars for some equipment you are going to want to keep it going as long as possible. That means it may be operating with decades old software. But normally that isn't a big issue, as the software while ol

  • From TFA (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Rik Sweeney ( 471717 ) on Tuesday June 07, 2016 @08:14AM (#52266573) Homepage

    A lot of ransomware reached victims via spear-phishing campaigns or booby-trapped adverts

    And this is why people use ad blockers.

    • A lot of ransomware reached victims via spear-phishing campaigns or booby-trapped adverts

      And this is why people use ad blockers.

      And why anti-ad block sites like Forbes, WSJ should be vilified by making the Web less safe for everyone; they want all the ad money, but zero the responsibility of verifying / sanitizing their ads (which is a perfect example of the rampant greed the worship).

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Why pay the ransom? Restore from your previous backup and carry on.

    What's that, you say? You don't make backups?

    The personal computer revolution began in the mid 1970's and was in full swing by the end of the 70's with everyone from Radio Shack to Apple jumping on the bandwagon. That's 40 years that people have had available to learn. For almost that entire span, the advice has been to make backups. Remember all the advice to store your important data on two separate cassettes, because they were so fid

    • but it isn't like computers don't give you both ample means of almost perfectly protecting yourself, and ample means of recovering after the fact even if you failed to do that.

      If you don't avail yourself of either, maybe it's about time you learned. People don't learn by being shielded from the consequences of their choices. The world does contain bad people, and always will, and what you should do is protect yourself rather than holding the unrealistic expectation that nobody will ever try to do anything bad to you.

      I don't know the answer to the backups dilemma. About the only justification for the cloud I've seen is the ability to backup - although I trust my backup system more.

      But the idea that the internet has to be a Game of Thrones type neighborhood is a little over the top. This is yet another example of the critical need for ad blocking, and script blocking. And if the mainstream sites don't do something about serving up ransomware and other problems with their ads, they'll just have to forgive me if I don

  • by Colin Castro ( 2881349 ) on Tuesday June 07, 2016 @08:32AM (#52266697)
    If ads are where the viruses is, who can we hold responsible for them? The website hosting the ads, the company supplying the ads to the website, or are they hacked ads?
    • If ads are where the viruses is, who can we hold responsible for them? The website hosting the ads, the company supplying the ads to the website, or are they hacked ads?

      I think the partial solution to this issue is for websites that depend on advertisements to band together and place demands upon the ad suppliers to vet the ads for suitability. Hacking ads can still happen, but they will be found quickly. Not a perfect solution - there is none - but as adblocking leaves the avoiding inconvenience arena to the full blown protect your system's ass critical need, we are reaching a tipping point.

      • by swb ( 14022 ) on Tuesday June 07, 2016 @09:21AM (#52267073)

        How about ads being forced to be static images or text only, with no fucking Javascript, flash or any other programmatic content? The ads are less annoying and the opportunity for useful malware payload gets closer to zero.

        Since those kinds of ads won't go away completely, the sites or the advertisers themselves can create them which will greatly reduce the opportunity for anonymous content injection into ad networks.

        Sure, it's less efficient for advertising, but its a hell of a lot safer. I hate to think that the reason ads are so insecure is so that the advertising industry is more efficient. It's like their single digit percentage increase in profit is being paid for by huge security costs everywhere.

        • Something tells me that the cat is out of the bag on adblocking.

          Even if advertisers tone things down, people will likely still block ads because they can.

          Right now, we have good justification for blocking ads. But even if things change and advertisers go back to text or static images, people will find some other justification for running their ad blockers.

        • Sure, it's less efficient for advertising, but its a hell of a lot safer.

          I am thinking it would be much more efficient. Almost everyone is running an add blocker now, and many are blocking all scripts as well. A static image on a website, however, is not blocked, so people will actually see it and may click. Static images and pay per click may actually generate both more interest and more money. All while stopping malware and popups. :)

  • by Anonymous Coward

    When the recommended advice of security professionals is to pay them, what did you expect to happen?

    • Actually, the recommended advice is to have good backups, and don't click on unsolicited attachments... And funny enough, most people who have a house fire get smoke alarms for the next house.
  • They feel more effective than "you've won lottery" or African heir spams. I dont click on any.
  • This is why you run adblockers everywhere...

The opossum is a very sophisticated animal. It doesn't even get up until 5 or 6 PM.

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