Your holiday snaps… up for ransom
Let us set the scene. You’ve got the family around and your computer is all set up to show off your holiday snaps. As you open the directory, something doesn’t feel right. Thumbnails aren’t appearing and your images have been renamed from “BEACH08.JPG” to “BEACH08.JPG._CRYPT”. You then notice a new file named “!_READ_ME_!.txt”, after some deliberation you decide to open this mysterious text file… you realise after reading that you have been e-blackmailed,
“Your files are encrypted with RSA-1024 algorithm. To recovery your files you need to buy our decryptor. To buy decrypting tool contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org”
That’s enough scene setting… This process means that your computer has been infected with an upgraded version of the Gpcode virus, this new version is the Gpcode.ak. RSA-1024 means 1024-bit encryption which is enough to get the secret services scratching their heads. Basically this is the webs answer to blackmail.
The original virus used a 660-bit encryption which was eventually cracked by Kaspersky Labs found this new ‘strain’ of the virus which had taken the virus programmer two years to better equip the virus. The virus’ encryption algorithm has been improved from 660-bits to 1024-bits and previous bugs in the code have been fixed.
It is thought that it would take 1 PC with a 2.2 Ghz processor around 30 years to crack a 660-bit key. This is why currently Kaspersky is unable to crack the updated 1024-bit key. This means that currently the only way to decrypt these files is to receive the private key from the malicious coder. However Kaspersky recommends that you contact at email@example.com and not the blackmailer.
The answer is to back-up regularly as the virus will encrypt your photos, documents, spreadsheets and anything it can get its hands on that it thinks may have some worth to you.
Is this the future of virus’? It’s certainly a more risky option for malicious coders, but more attractive due to the possible earnings which could bring greater satisfaction than writing virus’ that carry out attacks with no financial gain.
Please note that this isn’t an epidemic and as long as you keep updating your anti-virus you should have no issues.