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Cybercriminals infecting NZ computers with Ransomware

Cybercriminals infecting NZ computers with Ransomware

Cybercriminals are exploiting New Zealanders with Ransomware. And new research from Symantec sheds light on this rapidly growing class of cyber attack. Symantec’s conservative estimate is that cybercriminals are globally raking in over US$5 million a year from victims as a result of this scam, and that number is likely to grow. The full research report can be read here.

The scam works by using malware to disable victims’ computers until they pay a ransom to restore access. Cybercriminals often use social engineering tricks, such as displaying phony messages purporting to be from local law enforcement, to convince victims to pay up. Such messages often include warnings such as, “You have browsed illicit materials and must pay a fine.”

New Zealand has seen its fare share of Ransomware as well – NetSafe has warned of it, as well as the NZ Police.

Symantec’s research shows that up to 2.9 percent of victims end up paying ransoms. That number is significant given fees range up to US$460 and one gang was observed attempting to infect 495,000 computers over the course of just 18 days.

Though the first instances of this type of cyber attack were observed in 2009, until recently it was largely limited to Russia and Eastern Europe. However, it has increasingly become a popular ploy among numerous international online criminal gangs.

The best defense against this rapidly evolving threat is a good offense. Users should keep their computers, including their operating systems and applications, up-to-date with the latest updates from manufacturers. In addition, using security software to block infections is also a necessary step to prevent falling victim to this scam.

You can read the full report here:

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