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<a href="/news/uk-computer-users-have-two-weeks-to-protect-themselves-from-cyber-threats" title="UK Computer Users Have Two Weeks to Protect Themselves from Cyber Threats">UK Computer Users Have Two Weeks to Protect Themselves from Cyber Threats</a>
Posted on: 05 Jun 2014 

Posted By: IT Wiser

UK Computer Users Have Two Weeks to Protect Themselves from Cyber Threats


Cryptolocker, the ransomware program we’ve spoken about on a couple of times in recent months, and GOZeuS (Gameover ZeuS), a strain of the ZueS malware, have made mainstream news across the UK this week, as cybercrime agencies look to bring down their creators.

The FBI, Europol, and the National Crime Agency (NCA) have been working together to defeat the rampant computer viruses and have implemented a ‘sinkholing’ operation to disrupt malware performance.

In the past week, police have managed to gain control of Cryptolocker’s command-and-control servers and sinkhole the entire GOZeus botnet infrastructure. This has led to a reported drop in Cryptolocker infections from around 8,000 a day to almost zero. Great news indeed, but we are not out of the woods yet. In fact, the return of both is imminent and the NCA has warned that people have just two weeks to protect themselves before criminals figure out a way to wrestle back control. Rik Ferguson, head of security research at Trend Micro, believes people might not even have that long.

“The ultimate goal of the law enforcement activity is to prevent infected computers from communicating with one another, significantly weakening the criminal infrastructure,” he said in a blog post. “While this blow is effective, it is not permanent and we expect the malicious networks to return to their former strength within weeks, if not days.”

Security firm Damballa, an important collaborator in the fight against the malware, estimated that as many as 50,000 computers have been affected in the UK alone since last summer, placing Britain second to the US in countries that have suffered the most.

Protecting Your System

The National Crime Agency is urging people to use this two-week window to safeguard themselves from the threat of malware.

In doing this, two critical pieces of advice issued by the NCA are making regular backups of important data and investing in substantial anti-virus tools. These can be achieved with ITWiser’s Cloud Online Backup and Cloud Web Security respectively.

In addition to this, experts suggest avoiding all attachments from unknown sources, deleting suspicious emails and blocking .exe and zip files over email. This can be done with an antiphishing system – a feature that comes as standard with Cloud Web Security.

As Rik Ferguson suggested, the NCA timeframe is only an estimate and both Cryptolocker and GOZeuS could be back up and running as we speak. It is therefore critical that you act immediately in protecting your system.

The Register