Since Friday 30th May an almost unprecedented example of global cooperation between law enforcement agencies in 11 countries, led by Europol and the FBI along with the private sector, has been in effect. Law enforcement, Internet Service Providers and the Information Security industry have been working together to counter the threat posed by two specific malware families; Cryptolocker and P2PZeuS (aka GameOverZeuS).
Cryptolocker uses strong encryption to make the victim’s files entirely inaccessible until a ransom (1 Bitcoin, currently worth about $600 UISD) has been paid to unlock them. P2PZeuS is a sophisticated evolution of banking malware aimed at stealing financial and other credentials that the criminal will then resell on underground markets. An explanation of the propagation and effects of these criminal tools can be found here.
The ultimate goal of the law enforcement activity is to prevent infected computers from communicating with one another, significantly weakening the criminal infrastructure. While this blow is effective, it is not permanent and we expect the malicious networks to return to their former strength within a weeks, if not days.
This synchronised collaboration sets a new standard for that which is possible in the name of Internet security. This truly global operation has seen coordinated activities aimed at taking over or disrupting elements of the Command & Control infrastructure used to spread these pernicious malware families, but we cannot achieve this goal alone, every computer user has their own role to play.
Victims and potential victims, that’s you, must make use of this window of opportunity where the criminals have been weakened. Here’s your To-Do list, it’s short and sweet.
1 – Download and run the clean-up tools referenced above to make sure your system is clean
2 – Make sure your Windows operating systems is fully up to date with patches from Microsoft
3 – For on-going protection, ensure that you are running effective and up-to-date security software.
4 – Spread the message, make sure your families, friends and social circles are aware of the risks and of course of the opportunity we have right now.
These actions together will either clean up existing infections or help you to get ahead of the malware and better protect yourself in future.
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