FBI warns of continued use of Cryptowall ransomware schemes

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The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center recently issued an alert “Criminals Continue to Defraud and Extort Funds from Victims Using Cryptowall Ransomware Schemes” that indicates that the Center continues to receive complaints about the spread and infection of the ransomware known as Crypotwall. The Center warns that Cryptowall is “the most current and significant ransomware threat targeting U.S. individuals and businesses.” The ransomware has been active since April, 2014. Between April of 2014 and June of 2015, the Center received 992 complaints about Cryptowall, with reported losses of over $18 million.

The way Cryptowall works is that an individual (usually an employee) clicks on an infected advertisement, email or attachment, or visits an infected website. The ransomware is introduced and infects the employee’s computer and encrypts the individual’s files or network system. The individual is then sent a message that with the payment of $200-$10,000, the encryption key will be given to release the data. The ransom is usually paid in virtual currency, such as Bitcoin. Many companies have paid the ransom as it is less expensive than retrieving data with other means, such as back-ups. It is important to contact the FBI if you have been a victim of any type of ransomware, including Cryptowall. Most importantly, one of the best measures (besides best security practices) to protect your business from any type of malware or ransomware is to train your employees not to click on any suspicious emails, attachments or websites.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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