You may have seen it on the news. The FBI saying you have 2 weeks to protect yourself from a major cyber-threat. But why has this happened? What does it do? What should you do? We answer all your questions in the simple to understand blog.
What is it?
The malware, short for Malicious Software, is software used to gain access to your computer and personal information. This particular version is known as Gameover Zeus, GOZeus or P2PZeus.
How does it infect a computer?
The malware only infects Windows computers, so if you have a MAC or Android device, then you are OK. It typically infects a computer via an email attachment or a link in an email.
Users who receive these emails and open the attachment or click the link, inadvertently install the malware onto their computer.
The emails may look like they have been sent by genuine contacts and also appear to have harmless information, like invoices or voice mail messages. This makes it harder to spot.
You will not know it is installed on your PC.
What will it do?
The malware will search and monitor your computer for financial and sensitive information. It will then steal them for a criminal gang to use. You will not know it is installed or see what it is doing.
If the malware doesn’t find any useful information, it locks your files and threatens to delete them unless a ransom is paid. Around 2300 infected machines have already brought the gang around £16m in payments.
The malware will also mass emails itself from the victims computer to create more victims.
Why 2 Weeks?
The FBI claim to have disrupted the network by temporarily cutting the line of communication between the hackers and the infected computers. However they anticipate that the hackers will get past the disruption within 2 weeks, hence the 2 week security alert.
What should I do?
The first thing to do is update your operating system, so basically ensure you have all the latest security updates for Microsoft Windows. After this, scan your computer for viruses using a good anti-virus software package. This procedure should be enough as the malware will be identified and removed.
This is a valuable lesson to all users and shows how vulnerable we all are if we do not protect our computers and data.
However, following these 5 simple recommendations will help keep your computer safe:
- Use different passwords for all your accounts and keep them secure.
- Never click on links in emails without ensuring they are safe first.
- Do not open email attachments unless you are 100% sure it is safe.
- Use a reputable anti-virus software package and keep it up-to-date.
- Keep your Windows operating system up to date with the latest security patches.