Ransomware /Hijackware/ Extortion-ware – totally dominant type of malware

Nearly every customer who comes to me with a malware problem has installed a “fake anti-virus” programme on their pc that is often described as ransomware because in order to get control back of your pc, you have to “upgrade to the full version” – until then, it flashes a window up in front of anything else you try to use and its impossible to close it. Generally, they disable access to task manager, so you can’t kill it by “ending its process”. It plays a video claiming to have found lots of different pieces of malware but says it’s not safe to continue until you get your credit card out and pay for the full version. Make no mistake, this IS malware, all the warnings are just bogus information that is part of the video that is played to everyone who has installed this bogus anti-virus.
Another recent case of ransonware conned users into sending an SMS to premium rate numbers at a cost of 360 Russian Roubles (approx £7.50)

Sadly this approach works. I have heard conversion rates from 2%-10% for ransomware attacks.

So, how do you protect yourself? Firstly you should use all the basic protection for your computer but perhaps the most important thing..

Know what your antivirus is?

I am quite shocked how easily people are tricked by going to a webpage and believing some random page that runs a video saying “they are infected, so click here!” The web is a dangerous place, guys! The antivirus on your machine is there to protect you, and if you are familar with it, and trust only it’s warnings, you can and should disregard ANY other warning about malware or viruses that doesn’t originate from your own antivirus.

I would guess the majority of users couldn’t name the antivirus programme they have on their machine. To me, that is a timebomb, as well as a great cash cow for the ransomware extortionists.