Cisco has struck a big blow against the cybercriminalcommunity by shutting down one of the most notorious ransomware groups currently in operation. The investigation into the group, which is currently unknown, was led by the Talos security unit at Cisco Systems.
Ransomware was used by hackers to demand ransom money from their victims. Ransomware is a malicious piece that encrypts your files and holds all your information hostage until you pay a fee. These hackers make a lot of money from scared users who don’t know better, even though they rarely remove all their malware.
Hackers prey upon those who lack the ability to defend themselves. The group was able make an estimated $30 million per year from their exploits.
How did they get there? Talos began researching an Angler Exploit Kit. This is a tool that can be used to infiltrate someone’s network and infect them with ransomware. It is extremely effective.
This malware exploits vulnerabilities in browsers and plugs for browsers to break into the victim’s systems. It has a 40% success rate.
Talos discovered that many of the ransomware-infected users were connecting to servers at the Limestone Networks Data Center. Talos worked with Limestone to uncover a single operation that targeted as many as 90,000.
Talos estimated that the hacker group would have generated around $30 million annually if only 3 percent of infected users paid $300 ransom. This is the lowest-end of the ransomware fees scale.
What should you do if ransomware tries to take over your computer? These scammers will often pretend to be law enforcement agencies and claim that you have broken some law and are now subject to a fine. It is important to remember that law enforcement officers will not ask you to pay a fine via the Internet. Anyone who does so simply wants your money.
Ransomware “fines”, which are usually kept between $300-500, are generally kept between $300-500. This may seem low considering ransomware can target high-ranking figures in large businesses. However, Cisco’s 2015 Midyear Security Report states that it is the ideal range for illegal activity.
The price is high enough to make a profit and low enough that you might think that paying the fine would be faster and cheaper than contacting a lawyer or calling the police. For some, the fear of facing legal consequences is more than enough. It can seem easier to pay the person who locked your computer.
This is the most dangerous thing you can do.
According to Cisco’s security report, the best way to protect yourself against ransomware attacks is keeping vital files “air gapped,” which is to say that they are completely isolated from your network. This could be as simple as writing down the information on paper or simply storing it on a flash drive. You want to be able access as little information as possible on your computer so that ransomware attacks are nothing but annoying.
If you have sensitive information on your computer and are the victim of ransomware attacks, you should contact the authorities immediately.
Get certified to fight cybercrime It’s the reason they created a Cisco security certificate course through New Horizons Computer Learning Centers in Southern California and Southern Arizona. The New Horizon’s list Cisco security certification classes will get you on track to fighting cybercriminals.
Register here for Cyber Security: Pathway To Forensics, a webcast of two hours that will provide basic information about computer forensics.
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