Sunday, January 04, 2015

New York Times reports a typical home "ransomware attack"

Alina Simone has a detailed story in the Sunday “New York Times”, “How My Mom Got Hacked”, a real life account of a home infection with CryptoWall 2.0, link here.  The article describes a particular family that did not know safe computing (particularly about opening email phishing attachments), probably didn’t keep anti-virus software maintained well, and didn’t keep flash backups or cloud backups.

It also describes the psychology of criminals overseas, who brag about their shadowy world, but are forced into by economies (especially in Russia and former Soviet republics) that doesn’t give them jobs.  And combatting them would require the US to get Putin to extradite them!  It’s easy to imagine this as a form of “class warfare”.  Noam Chomsky is on to something.

The article also describes the practical difficulties for most people in making payments in volatile bitcoins.

So far this type of ransomware lives only in Windows environments, but it could be developed for the Mac or for mobile devices.  On the other hand, why is Microsoft Windows so vulnerable to this kind of hijacking?  Why can’t Microsoft fix this vulnerability?
Along with this observation about Microsoft, note that Windows Defender and Malicious Software Tool are not considered adequate substitutes for full-blown anti-virus software.  Do all the major companies (Webroot, MacAfee, Norton, Sophos, Trend Micro, Kaspersky) catch CyrptoWall 2.0 if it is on your machine or tries to run now?  

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