The FBI and the National Crime Agency have sent out a warning to all computer users that they have 2 weeks to upgrade their computer security in preparation for a malware outbreak. The malware is called the “Gameover Zeus” and it is estimated that over 15,000 people have already been infected in the UK and that it has stolen millions of pounds from them. It is estimated that nearly a million people around the world have been infected with this malware.
The way Gameover Zeus malware works is that it will search around your computer looking for files that may hold financial or sensitive information. Once it finds them it will send the files back to their server so that they can use it to steal your money. If it suspects it cannot collect this information from you it will encrypt all of the files on your computer and then hold them for ransom. You are then forced to pay the ransom or lose all your data. You are also forced to pay using a bitcoin, a virtual currency that is untraceable, meaning the hackers are difficult to locate and shut down. Once the malware is installed it also uses the PCs power to try and spread the malware and infect others. Reports say that it will stay on your computer without you knowing and wait for you to enter your bank or debit card information; this is why it is so difficult to know if you are infected.
It is highly recommended that you use anti-virus software, it really does make a difference. AV software can locate dormant viruses that may be on your computer that are waiting to be activated. You can actually stop a virus before it activates with anti-virus or block it from coming on your computer before you download it. However just because you have anti-virus does not make you 100% safe, if you do not make sure that your anti-virus is updating everyday then you could be in danger, even if it is just a day out of date.
The way that the Gameover Zeus virus spreads is by phishing emails, these can be easily identified if you know what you are looking for. If you get an email from someone you might know with a subject you are just not sure about, don’t open it. Hackers can mask their email to look like other people, or it could be someone you know is infected with the malware and it is using their email to spread it further. If you receive anything that looks out or the ordinary, or are simply not expecting, then make sure you check with the sender first.
The estimated 2 week warning that they are giving all users should be a wake-up call to everyone to upgrade their computers and purchase anti-virus software. This is a serious threat that has already infected thousands of computer users in the UK alone.
You can check if you are infected using software from reputable suppliers, some links are below:
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