Internet users have been warned that they have 2 weeks to protect their computers against malicious virus ?GameOver Zeus?. The virus, alongside malware ?Cryptolocker? is being used by criminal gangs to extort millions of pounds from internet users worldwide.
The 2 week warning from The National Crime Agency came after a multi-national FBI led operation took control of the servers being used to manage the sophisticated malicious software. It is believed that computer users have 2 weeks to safeguard their PC?s to protect their financial and personal details before these criminals re-launch their attacks.
Statistics from the FBI estimate that more than 15,000 machines in the UK are already affected by the virus, and over 1 million devices are affected worldwide.
Gameover Zeus, also known as P2PZeus is a virus developed by a criminal gang based in Russia and Ukraine. The virus, once active in the computer searches for files that will allow access to banking or financial information. The FBI believes that the virus has already been responsible for ?60 million in losses. The virus also distributes another particularly aggressive malware programme; Cryptolocker. Cryptolocker works by encrypting files on victims? computers, including personal files, documents and pictures, and then demands a ransom of approximately ?300 within a specified amount of time in order to unlock the files. The FBI estimate that Cryptolock has already extorted payments of more than ?16 million.
The malevolent virus has so far been distributed via links or attachments in unsolicited emails that offer advice on how to update antivirus software to disable the virus.
The FBI operation carried out has disabled many of the servers being used by the criminals, but nobody involved has been arrested, it is therefore highly likely that very soon the operation will start up again soon. Experts have predicted that the botnet (the network of criminally controlled, hijacked computers) will take around 2 weeks to be fully operational again.
How-to defend your data
The following steps are guidelines only, and cannot guarantee that your computer will be completely protected ? but aim to reduce your risk.
Do you think your PC has a virus? Click here http://www.microsoft.com/security/scanner/en-us/default.aspx to run a free Microsoft Safety Scanner. It is a free downloadable security tool that provides on-demand scanning and helps remove viruses, spyware, and other malicious software. It works alongside your existing antivirus software, and identifies any viruses in your machine.