posted on May, 24 2005 @ 01:16 PM
Computer hackers have become infamous for hacking networks to steal data and to commit other malicious acts, but now an new tactic has emerged whereby
a hacker has "locked" data on a victim's hardware and then demanded money for the encryption key. This has become known as "ransom-ware." The
problem for the perpetrator is that money transactions are easier to trace than email addresses. The FBI is working on the case.
Computer users already anxious about viruses and identity theft have new reason to worry: Hackers have found a way to lock up the electronic
documents on your computer and then demand $200 over the Internet to get them back.
Security researchers at San Diego-based Websense Inc. uncovered the unusual extortion plot when a corporate customer they would not identify fell
victim to the infection, which encrypted files that included documents, photographs and spreadsheets.
A ransom note left behind included an e-mail address, and the attacker using the address later demanded $200 for the digital keys to unlock the files.
"This is equivalent to someone coming into your home, putting your valuables in a safe and not telling you the combination," said Oliver Friedrichs, a
security manager for Symantec Corp.
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Well, I guess when you think you've heard it all, something new comes down the pike. One would hope that this does not become common. Even now,
experts are attempting to provide protection against this type of attack. Clearly, with an electronic financial transaction required for this scheme
to work, the ransom idea may be dead in the water, but, of course, there are plenty of folks who will do this kind of thing just for grins.
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