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Your Data Held For Ransom

David Utter
Expert Author
Published: 2005-05-25

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The latest weapon being wielded by malicious PC crackers is encryption, and if they lock up your data, you'll pay to get it back.

Ransoms of $200 have been reported as a new scheme begins making the rounds of the Internet. And security and antivirus software companies have been scrambling to update their offerings to protect user machines.

The ransomware plan was first noted by security company Websense, in one of the company's security alerts. A user who visited a malicious web site while using Internet Explorer would suffer the silent downloading of a Trojan program.

That program would then connect to another web site, where an application would run and encode files on the local hard drive and on mapped drives as well. Then the user would see a message saying files had been locked up, and offer to sell the decoder to him with the purchase to go through an E-Gold account.

Reportedly, this happened to an unidentified corporate user. The user reported the incident to Websense, who in turn enlisted the assistance of a security researcher to unlock the files. No ransom was paid.

The criminal's demand for payment should make him or her easier to catch. Electronic cash transactions are trivial for banks and law enforcement to trace, but efforts to find the extortionist may be hindered if, as expected, the person is in another country like Russia.

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About the Author:
David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business. Email him here.

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