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Ransomware viruses on the rise, ICT companies say

The Malta Chamber of SMEs has warned that ICT companies have reported an increase in Ransomware attacks, and that traditional antivirus solutions are proving ineffective

Jeanelle MIfsud
15 November 2016, 12:51pm
Ransomware, a relatively new type of malware or virus, prevents the user from accessing his data, displaying a splash screen giving instructions on how to pay ransom in order to restore access
Ransomware, a relatively new type of malware or virus, prevents the user from accessing his data, displaying a splash screen giving instructions on how to pay ransom in order to restore access
The Malta Chamber of SMEs, GRTU, has warned that ICT companies providing support services to local businesses have reported an increase of systems being infected by Ransomware, and that traditional antivirus solutions are proving ineffective.

In a statement, the GRTU explained that Ransomware, a relatively new type of malware or virus, prevents the user from accessing his data, displaying a splash screen giving instructions on how to pay ransom in order to restore access. “The criminals developing these new threats are not asking for payment through methods such as credit cards or Paypal. They are opting for payments through systems such as Bitcoins in order to avoid traceability. There is, of course, no guarantee that the usability will be reinstated once payment has been affected,” it said.

The GRTU recommended that users avoid opening certain emails, claiming that the most common method of infection is through email often guised under trustworthy sources such as job vacancies, ecommerce shipping details, or appearing as though coming from familiar contacts. “Yet this is not always achievable,” the GRTU admitted. “It is therefore essential to keep regular backups of your data and in such a way that Ransomware does not encrypt your backups as well.”

Another method being reported, the GRTU said, is through Remote Desktop Connections or through macros within word processor documents or other. It recommended to use a backup system that backs up to a device that is not usually accessible through the operating system, or on external USB drives. It is advisable that one keeps more than one copy of the backup, the GRTU added.

“It is imperative that all software is kept updated regularly, especially when security updates are detected by software houses like Microsoft, Google and Apple.”

Europol is reportedly following Ransomware and action is being taken. “Some decryption tools have been developed but at the same time, new threats are being developed by digital criminals,” GRTU said.

A website has been created by Europol and security organisations to help and give guidance accordingly.

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