This week, we’re talking about Malware.
What is Malware?
Malware is a broad term used to describe a variety bad things for your computer - viruses, worms, trojan horses, scareware, spyware, adware, ransomware, and more. It can take on a variety of different forms. What’s important to know is that Malware is bad for you and your computer.
What should you know?
Malware is out there, but you may not be aware of just how “good” it's gotten.
We're getting to a place where preventing malware is the only reasonable solution. The alternative is to either pay out the ransom or wipe your device and hope your backups weren’t also compromised.
The FBI's latest advice on dealing with Cryptowall (3.0) and similar ransomware is to pay the fee. Crazy huh?
The fee (ransom) charged is usually $500 (USD), with a stipulation claiming that if you don't pay within a specific time frame, this ‘fee’ jumps to $1,500 (USD).
The tech fees to remove malware are generally far more expensive than the ransom fee and are dependent on good, unaffected backups. Very often, the malware infects the backups in addition to the core systems.
This leaves you with very few solutions beyond paying the ransom.
There's a really interesting variation of Cryptowall called 'Teslacrypt' that's targeting gamers. They don’t encrypt your whole system but they do lock up your games.
Call of Duty, StarCraft, Diablo, Fallout, Minecraft, Assassin's Creed, Half Life 2, and Bioshock 2, among others are all being targeted. Digital game distribution platform Steam is allegedly being targeted, as well as game development software such as RPG Maker, Unity3D, and Unreal Engine.
Here, it seems like the the bad guys have won. Estimates are currently over $18M in earnings through cryptowall 3 to date. And that's just one piece of Malware.
The best solution is avoidance. Always keep your antivirus software up-to-date, remember to run your virus scanner regularly, and never follow the instructions that say “turn off your AV to complete this installation.”