Later today, Microsoft is holding an event in San Francisco to unveil the new Windows operating system and most likely launch some sort of technical preview. We don’t yet know if it will be called Windows 9, Windows Threshold, or simply Windows, but no matter what the official name of the new OS, the price for upgrading to it should be free.
You can thank mobile devices in general, and Apple specifically, for the shift in OS pricing. When the latest greatest version of iOS or Android is released, the issue of cost never comes up. It’s simply expected that the upgrade will be free.
The culture of free upgrades on mobile devices was driven in large part by Apple, and Apple is also the company that extended that model to its desktop OS. Apple was already providing new versions of Mac OS X at a fraction of what Microsoft was charging customers to upgrade to the latest Windows release, but last year, when Apple launched Mac OS X “Mavericks,” it also made the upgrade available for free. I expect the same with the upcoming release of OS X “Yosemite” this fall.
That’s a tough act to follow. Mac OS X is certainly not a threat to Windows, but it has gained much more mainstream relevance and has been chipping away at Microsoft’s share of the desktop OS market. Microsoft can’t really just ignore the fact that Apple is offering Mac OS X upgrades for free and then continue charging hundreds of dollars for the latest version of Windows.
Multiple Windows 9 reports have suggested that Microsoft is considering releasing the upcoming platform as a free download to certain existing Windows users. The Windows 9 upgrade will be available free of charge to all existing Windows 8 users once it’s released. Apparently, users will be able to easily install the Windows 9 update after downloading it from Microsoft, which is how Apple’s OS X updates have been rolled out to Macs for a few years now. For what it’s worth, some of the recent Windows 9 leaks did say that Microsoft already has a tool in place that will allow users to easily perform software updates.
It’s not clear whether other Windows users who are on older versions of the OS will get any other special offers, and actual prices for Windows 9 have yet to be revealed. Microsoft is reportedly interested in moving many people from the older, and no longer supported, Windows XP and offering Windows 9 as a free download might be a great incentive for some.
Recent leaks, including many online videos, have revealed some of the major features coming to Windows 9, including the return of the Start menu, the Cortana voice-based search assistant that’s currently available only on Windows Phone, the Notification Center, support for multiple desktops, and several other user interface enhancements.
Providing a free OS upgrade takes the wind out of the sails of most complaints. One of the biggest protests users have about upgrading isn’t the operating system itself, it’s the idea that they’re being “forced” to upgrade just to line Microsoft’s pockets with cash. There will always be challenging issues with any new operating system — you can’t please everyone — but the backlash would be greatly reduced if no money exchanged hands. Customers would give Microsoft a lot more leeway and be much more forgiving if the latest, greatest version is free.
Operating system adoption is also subject to inertia. When a new version of an operating system is launched, the more people download and install it and the greater market share it wins, the more likely it is that more people will continue to download and install it. If the OS upgrade is available for free, it’s much more likely that demand will be higher, and this becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy that drives adoption.
Microsoft doesn’t need to charge for Windows upgrades. Technology changes over time. Hardware crashes and dies. There will be customers who will cling to their 10-year old hardware, but many will still buy new PCs to replace broken hardware, get a faster processor, or take advantage of the latest USB or Wi-Fi components. Microsoft could provide free upgrades to the latest version of Windows for existing owners of licensed copies of Windows but still continue to charge OEM manufacturers for installing the OS in new PCs (Microsoft does give the Windows OS away for free for devices with screens smaller than nine inches).
The latest versions of iOS and Android are free for those with existing iOS and Android devices, but they aren’t available for all existing iOS or Android devices. iOS 8 is only compatible with the iPhone 4s and newer, the iPod Touch 5th generation and newer, and the iPad 2 and newer. Anyone with an older iOS device must now replace their hardware in order to get the benefits of the latest OS.
Microsoft is a corporation that exists to bring in revenue and provide value to its shareholders. It’s not operating as a non-profit. As such, Microsoft has a vested interest in ensuring that as many businesses and consumers around the world continue to depend on the Windows OS so that it can sell its other products and services — and it could help that cause by providing Windows upgrades for free.
Do you agree? Share your thoughts with me….
Five Reasons Why Clicking “Unsubscribe” May Be A Bad Idea!
When you get on a mailing list you don’t want to be on, it’s easy to get off – just click on the “unsubscribe” link. But should you? Maybe not. When you unsubscribe, you’re giving the organization that sent you the message information about yourself that you may not want them to have:
1. You have confirmed to the sender that your email address is both valid and in active use.
If the sender is unscrupulous then the volume of email you receive will most likely go up, not down. Worse, now that you have validated your address the spammer can sell it to his friends. So you are probably going to get phishing attacks from them too.
2. By responding to the email, you have positively confirmed that you have opened and read it and may be slightly interested in the subject matter, whether it’s getting money from a foreign prince, a penny stock tip or a diet supplement. That’s very valuable information for the mailer and his pals.
3. If your response goes back via email – perhaps the process requires you to reply with the words “unsubscribe,” or the unsubscribe link in the message opens up an email window – then not only have you confirmed that your address is active, but your return email will leak information about your email software too. Emails contain meta information, known as email headers, and you can tell what kind of email software somebody is using (and imply something about their computer) from the contents and arrangement of the headers.
4. If your response opens up a browser window then you’re giving away even more about yourself. By visiting the spammer’s website you’re giving them information about your geographic location (calculated based on your IP address), your computer operating system and your browser. The sender can also give you a cookie which means that if you visit any other websites they own (perhaps by clicking unsubscribe links in other emails) they’ll be able to identify you personally.
5. The most scary of all: if you visit a website owned by a spammer you’re giving them a chance to install malware on your computer, even if you don’t click anything. These types of attacks, known as drive-by downloads, can be tailored to use exploits the spammer knows you are vulnerable to thanks to the information you’ve shared unwittingly about your operating system and browser.
So how do you avoid unwanted email without unsubscribing?
If the message is unsolicited then mark it as spam.
Marking something as spam not only deletes the message (or puts it into your trash) it also teaches your email software about what you consider spam so that it can better detect and block questionable messages in the future and adapt as the spammers change their tricks.
All 500,000 victims of Cryptolocker can now recover the files encrypted by the malware without paying a ransom. The malicious program encrypted files on Windows computers and the hacker demanded a substantial fee before handing over the key to the scrambled files.
Thanks to security experts and law enforcement, an online portal has been created where victims can get the decryption key for free.
The portal was created after security researchers grabbed the hackers hardware and got a copy of Cryptolocker’s database of victims.
“This time we basically got lucky,” said Michael Sandee, principal analyst at Fox-IT – one of the security firms which helped tackle the cyber-crime group behind Cryptolocker.
In late May 2014, law enforcement agencies and security companies seized a worldwide network of hijacked home computers that was being used to spread both Cryptolocker and another strain of malware known as Gameover Zeus.
This concerted action seems to have prompted an attempt by the gang to ensure one copy of their database of victims did not fall into police hands. What the criminals did not know was that law enforcement personnel and the security firms were already in control of part of the network and were able to grab the data as it was being sent.
The action also involved the FBI charging a Russian man, Evgeniy Bogachev, aka “lucky12345” and “slavik”, who is accused of being the ring leader of the gang behind Gameover Zeus and Cryptolocker.
The Gameover Zeus family of malware targets people who bank online, and is thought to have racked up millions of victims.
Cryptolocker was created by a sub-group inside the larger gang and first appeared in September 2013, since then, it has amassed about 500,000 victims.
Those infected were initially presented with a demand for $400 – $500 or an equivalent amount in the virtual Bitcoin currency. Victims had 72 hours to pay up or the specific keys that would unlock their files would be destroyed.
Analysis of the back-up database indicates that only 1.3% of all the people hit by the malware paid the ransom.
Despite the low response rate, the gang is believed to have netted about $3m from Cryptolocker alone. Many of those caught did not pay because they were able to restore files from back-ups. However, others are believed to have lost hug amounts of important files and business documents to the cyber-thieves.
Security firms Fox-IT and FireEye – who assisted in the efforts to shut down the Gameover Zeus group – have created a portal called Decrypt Cryptolocker via which any of the 500,000 victims can find the decryption key needed to unlock their files. All they have to do is submit a file that’s been encrypted and from that file we can figure out which encryption key was used,” said Greg Day, chief technology officer at FireEye.
People wishing to use the portal should submit a file that does not contain sensitive information to help verify which key they need.
Here’s the link:
Computer users pass around USB sticks like electronic business cards. Although we know they often carry malware infections, users depend on antivirus scans and the occasional reformatting to keep thumb drives from becoming the carrier for the next digital epidemic. But the security problems with USB devices run deeper than you think: Their risk isn’t just in what they carry, it’s built into the core of how they work.
That’s the takeaway from findings security researchers Karsten Nohl and Jakob Lell plan to present this week at the Black Hat security conference, demonstrating a collection of proof-of-concept malicious software that highlights how the security of USB devices has long been fundamentally broken.
The malware they created, called BadUSB, can be installed on a USB device to completely take over a PC, invisibly alter files installed from the memory stick, or even redirect the user’s internet traffic. Because BadUSB resides not in the flash memory storage of USB devices, but in the firmware that controls their basic functions, the attack code can remain hidden long after the contents of the device’s memory would appear to the average user to be deleted.
These problems can’t be patched by antivirus or anti-malware programs because it’s actually exploiting the very way that USB is designed. So, if you’re concerned about this security exploit, you have to consider a USB infected and throw it away as soon as it touches a non-trusted computer.’
The problem isn’t limited to thumb drives. All manner of USB devices from keyboards and mice to smartphones and USB Cameras have firmware that can be reprogrammed—in addition to USB memory sticks. It even possible to impersonate a USB keyboard and suddenly start typing commands.
The malware can silently hijack internet traffic too, mimicking a USB network card and changing a computer’s DNS settings to redirect traffic to any servers it pleases. Or if the code is planted on a phone or another device with an internet connection, it can act as a man-in-the-middle, secretly spying on communications as it relays them from the victim’s machine.
Another major concern is that the infection can travel both from computer to USB and vice versa. Any time a USB stick is plugged into a computer, its firmware could be reprogrammed by malware on that PC, with no easy way for the USB device’s owner to detect it. And likewise, any USB device could silently infect a user’s computer.
BadUSB’s ability to spread undetectably from USB to PC and back raises questions about whether it’s possible to use USB devices securely at all. We’ve known all along that if you give someone access to your USB ports, they can do bad things to your computer. What this appears to demonstrate is that it’s also possible to go the other direction, which suggests the threat of compromised USB devices is a very serious problem.”
There’s even some speculation that the USB attack may in fact already be common practice with the NSA based on a report about a spying device known as Cottonmouth, revealed earlier this year in the leaks of Edward Snowden. The device, which hid in a USB peripheral plug, was identified in a collection of NSA internal documents as surreptitiously installing malware on a target’s machine. The exact mechanism for that USB attack wasn’t described.
The short-term solution to BadUSB isn’t a technical patch so much as a fundamental change in how we use USB devices. To avoid the attack, all you have to do is not connect your USB device to computers you don’t own or don’t have good reason to trust—and don’t plug untrusted USB devices into your own computer.
In the long term, USB manufacturing companies could change their process and implement code-signing protections on all of their devices.
In the immediate future, BadUSB-created cracking tools will be able to create compromised devices that will have the potential to be a new and deadly attack vector for hackers.
You can read more about these USB threats here:
How to safely dispose of computers and other technology devices
When you get rid of sensitive paper documents, it’s a good idea to shred or burn them to help protect your privacy and prevent identity theft. Similarly, it’s important to erase your personal information from computers (desktop, laptop, or tablet) and other devices (smartphone, gaming consoles) before you dispose of or donate them.
If your device was provided to you by your employer, or if you own a small business, you may also risk loss of intellectual property, legal penalties, and potential damage to your corporate reputation.
So, what should you do?
1: First you should back up the files or data you want to keep
Start the process by making a copy of your information somewhere else like a portable USB drive. To create a backup of the files on a computer running Windows, you can use the Backup and Restore feature that’s built into Windows Vista and Windows 7, or File History in Windows 8. If you’re moving your files to a new computer, you can use Windows Easy Transfer to transfer your files from one computer running Windows to another.
2: Choose the best option for removing your data
Simply reformatting a disk or reinstalling the operating system does not guarantee the old data is unreadable. Your two best options for data removal are to use a certified refurbisher (this is the preferred course of action for business computers) or you can do it yourself. The following information will help you choose what is most suitable for your situation.
Microsoft has a listing of authorized technology refurbishers that can help you with data destruction and proper disposal practices. You can see them at this website: http://www.microsoft.com/refurbishedpcs/Disposal.aspx
If this high end disposal service is beyond your needs, you do have a couple FREE download options to Do-It-Yourself:
1: Softpedia’s DP Wiper:
2: Active @ KillDisk:
The 2 FREE applications mentioned above are tried and true and their websites are not infected with any drive by Trojan attacks. I DO NOT recommend simply opening up Google or any other search engine and searching for Disk Wipe utilities. In testing this, I found that more than ½ of the links I checked were in fact infected with some type of Trojan trying to infect my system. REMEMBER – anytime you search for something “FREE” you’re apt to get more trouble than you bargain for…
The DOJ has declared a victory over the Cryptolocker Trojan stating that it is now out of commission.
Authorities in 10 countries seized servers believed to be connected to Gameover Zeus, a tightly controlled botnet that has plagued computer users worldwide. The botnet was also believed to be connected to CryptoLocker, the ransomware that locked up the files of victims and businesses and attempted to extort money for the key to access the frozen files. Police seized servers connected to the botnet in Canada, France, Germany Luxemboug, the Netherlands, Ukraine and the United Kingdom, investigators said. The FBI added Evgeniy Mikhailovich Bogachev to its most wanted list on Monday. The 30-year-old Anapa, Russia, resident was allegedly the principal administrator behind the Gameover Zeus botnet. Others are believed to be in Russia or Ukraine.
That’s very good news for computer users worldwide, unfortunately – this could be a short lived respite: Ransomware kits, which automate the process for criminals, are becoming more prevalent, Intel Security announced, predicting malware infections to increase on mobile devices. Security vendor Sophos has detected Simplelocker, an Android Trojan that encrypts mobile files and demands payment using the similar Cryptolocker extortion scam.
The FBI estimates that there were $27 million in ransom payments made in the first two months of CryptoLocker’s emergence. Constant vigilance and a good, solid offsite backup solution is our only salvation when confronted with attacks like this. It’s been so lucrative for the criminals, you can bet we haven’t seen the last of this type of attack yet.
The following list was compiled from the victims identified in court documents unsealed Monday in U.S. District Court of Western Pennsylvania.
Pennsylvania Manufacturer: $375,000 Stolen
Haysite Reinforced Plastics, an Erie, Penn.-based manufacturer was bilked of more than $375,000 in October, 2011. Several employees at the company had their computers infected with malware and in a two day period Bogachev’s group allegedly transferred money from Haysite’s PNC bank account to a money mule accounts at banks in Atlanta and New York City. Investigators said the attackers could inject additional information in the form fields into the website displayed in the victim’s browser to request a Social Security number, credit card information and other sensitive information often used as a challenge mechanism by financial institutions to validate the authenticity of a transaction
Washington Indian tribe: $277,000 Stolen
An Indian tribe, based in Washington, lost more than $277,000 after an authorized wire transfer was initiated with its bank using stolen credentials, according to the court documents. Stealing banking credentials was the principal aim of Gameover Zeus, but the botnet of infected systems also was used to send out spam and conduct attacks to steal other types of sensitive data.
Assisted Living Facility Operator: $190,800 Stolen
Thieves allegedly stole more than $190,800 after stealing account credentials from an employee at an assisted living facility operator based in Eastern Pennsylvania. Investigators say Gameover Zeus was increasingly used to conduct other attacks, including phishing and spam campaigns. Between 500,000 and 1 million computers were infected with the Gameover Zeus malware globally
Regional Bank: $7 Million Stolen
A regional bank in Northern Florida lost nearly $7 million after the criminals allegedly used stolen account credentials to transfer funds out of its main bank account. The Zeus Gameover operators conduct denial of service attacks in conjunction with their fraudulent wire transfers, according to the FBI warning.
Insurance Company: $70,000 Loss
A Pittsburgh-based insurance company had critical business files encrypted by a CrytpoLocker infection. The company repaired the damage by wiping the infected systems and restoring from backup but estimates the loss of business — it sent employees home during the remediation — and the cost of wiping and reimaging infected systems at $70,000.
Restaurant Operator: $30,000 Loss
A Florida restaurant operator had more than 10,000 files encrypted by CryptoLocker, according to investigators. Employees were locked out of the company’s team training documents, franchise operation files and recipe folders. Remediation costs associated with the infection were estimated at $30,000. The criminals behind the threat gave victims 72 hours to pay the CryptoLocker ransom in Bitcoins or face permanent destruction of the private key. In addition, the thieves threatened to destroy the private key to unlock the files if it detected any attempt to remove CryptoLocker.
Massachusetts Police Department: $750 Ransom
A local police department based in Swansea, Mass., paid a $750 ransom to the criminals behind CryptoLocker after the agency’s main file server, including administrative documents, investigative materials and digital photo mug shots were encrypted by the malware. The department paid funds last November to send two Bitcoins to the thieves for the key to unlock the files.
Pest Control Company: $80,000 Loss
A North Carolina-based pest control company said it racked up $80,000 in infection removal costs associated with CryptoLocker when an infection spread to its customer database and schedule of appointments. The company’s backup server also was encrypted by the malware.
It’s hard to imagine that just a few short years ago, we were all using digital cameras with removable storage cards to take and store our photos. Vacation time used to be when we took the most photos. These days, many of us would be completely lost if we didn’t have a smart phone in our pocket to record every little thing that happened during a normal day. I even find myself taking pictures of parts I need to refer back to as well as documents and instructions. The day of the pocket notepad and pen is long gone.
The challenge today is in managing all of this digital data. The pre-installed apps that come with a mobile device are usually sorely lacking in features. Aside from editing and adding titles to your photos, we all need a way to easily upload and share our images with family, friends and more importantly with our other digital devices and computer systems. Here are two good add-on options for organizing your smartphone photos and to keep your Cape photos separate from your Nantasket Beach photos.
1: Flickr – automatically uploads smartphone photos to a “cloud-based” Flickr account, so you can access them from your computer or table, not just your phone. Flickr offers one terabyte of free cloud storage, enough for upwards of 500,000 digital images. You can later download the photos to your computer and adding tags and titles so that you can use a keyword search to find them later. Both the App and the storage are free, and the images are stored at full resolution, with no compression, You can even arrange your photos into “collections” or ”sets” on Flickr to keep them organized. Check it out at www.flickr.com
2: Picturelife – Picturelife doesn’t just automatically upload your smartphone photos to the cloud, it also uploads from your computer and social-media pages, consolidating all of your digital images in one place. Only the first 1,700 or so of your photos are stored for free, however. To store up to 34,000 photos will cost you $7.00 per month…up to 100,000 is only $15.00 per month. As with Flickr, uploaded images are saved at full resolution and can be sorted into albums. You can also add keywords :”tags” to them for better searching. www.Picturelife.com
Surface Pro 3 – the tablet that can replace your laptop or even a MacBook Pro? That’s the new tagline for the Surface Pro 3 and the theme of the new television commercials.
Microsoft released their new Surface Pro 3 last Friday. After less-than-stellar sales and rumored to have lost over $1.2 BILLION dollars on the Surface 1 and 2 they’re hoping that the 3rd time is a charm.
Its obvious Microsoft got off to a rocky start with its first two Surface Pros, but I still think there’s a lot to like in the laptop/tablet hybrids. With their aggressive update schedule, we’re finally seeing the third Surface Pro just a year and a half after the first one hit store shelves.
It’s thinner and lighter even though it has a larger 12”display.
New kickstand design with more angle flexibility
New keyboard/cover design with backlit keys and improved trackpad.
Comes bundled with a battery powered stylus/pen.
The top button on the stylus opens OneNote.
Writing or drawing on the screen is much like drawing on a piece of paper.
No built-in storage for the bundled stylus.
The keyboard is not included ($129.00 additional)
Battery life has not improved over the Pro 2. Microsoft claims up to 9 hours browsing websites.
To sweeten the pot even more – if you bought a Macbook Air only to find it doesn’t quite fill your “laptop” needs, Microsoft is offering up to a $650 trade-in allowance through July 31st.
When it comes to price, the Surface Pro 3 is basically on par with the MacBook Air. The Surface Pro 3 starts out cheaper at $799 — but that’s for a Core i3 model with only 64 GB of storage. The Core i5 Surface Pro 3 with a 128 GB SSD has both the same basic hardware and the same $999 price tag as the base 13-inch MacBook Air. The Core i7 will hit the streets at $1,949 with 512GB of storage. There’s also a $199.00 docking station and an Ethernet adapter available.
If you want to take a Surface Pro 3 for a test drive just visit your local Best Buy or Staples. They have the entry level units in stock and ready for sale. I’ll have a more thorough review once the higher end units are shipping and in use here at ACTSmart.
If you’re a Comcast cable customer, your home’s private Wi-Fi router is being turned into a public hotspot.
It’s been one year since Comcast started its monster project to blanket residential and commercial areas with continuous Wi-Fi coverage. Imagine waves of wireless Internet access emitting from every home, business and public waiting area.
Comcast has been swapping out customers’ old routers with new ones capable of doubling as public hotspots. So far, the company has turned 3 million home devices into public ones. By year’s end it plans to activate that feature on the other 5 million already installed.
Anyone with an Xfinity account can register their devices (laptop, tablet, phone) and the public network will always keep them registered — at a friend’s home, coffee shop or bus stop. No more asking for your cousin’s Wi-Fi network password.
What about privacy?
It seems like Comcast did this the right way. Outsiders never get access to your private, password-protected home network. Each box has two separate antennae, Comcast explained. That means criminals can’t jump from the public channel into your network and spy on you.
And don’t expect every passing stranger to get access. The Wi-Fi signal is no stronger than it is now, so anyone camped in your front yard will have a difficult time tapping into the public network. This system was meant for guests at home, not on the street.
As for strangers tapping your router for illegal activity: Comcast said you’ll be guilt-free if the FBI comes knocking. Anyone hooking up to the “Xfinity Wi-Fi” public network must sign in with their own traceable, Comcast customer credentials.
Still, no system is foolproof, and this could be unnecessary exposure to potential harm. Simply opening up another access point increases the likelihood that someone could tamper with your router.
What about connection speed?
Having several people connecting to a single router tends to clog up the Wi-Fi. Comcast says it found a way to make this work.
With two separate networks, each antenna has its own data speed cap. Comcast said the private channel provides whatever speed customers already pay to get (most have 25 Megabits per second). The public hotspot channel is given 15 Mbps and allows up to five people to connect at a time.
That means having your data-hungry friends over shouldn’t slow down your Netflix streaming if they are logged into the “public” side of your router.
Comcast also says you shouldn’t experience any conflict between the two networks. It’s something Comcast engineers thought about carefully. Obviously, the last thing they want to do is to create a bad user experience.
Before this project, there was no value in having a home Internet subscription when you’re not at home. Every time you left the house you walked away from your subscription. But with all these new hotspot locations, you can now connect to the Internet remotely using your home or business account. Everyone’s devices are a lot more mobile.
But what if you hate the idea of your private Comcast boxes being turned into public hotspots? You can turn it off by calling Comcast or logging into your account online. The company says fewer than 1% of customers have done that so far.
We’ve started seeing yet another version of CryptoLocker .
It begins as a very simple plain text email pretending to be an email delivered fax. I’d like to point out that in an effort to evade filters or at least make blocking these a bit harder, the cyber thief has been utilizing DropBox links to give to potential victims. Much like many campaigns in the past, other virus campaigns have attempted to utilize legitimate, especially free, services to hide their malware. GoogleDocs was a favorite of spammers to peddle their pharma campaigns, but Google was usually pretty quick to clean those up. In this instance it would appear that DropBox does not scan their stored files for malware and CryptoLocker is taking full advantage of this.
This variation also appears to work a little differently in a few ways. Once the victim machine is infected, a few new pages pop up to inform the victim that they have been infected. One is a webpage explaining what just happened. Another is a text file that explains what you must do in order to decrypt your files entitled “DECRYPT_INSTRUCTION”. An interesting note in the decryption instructions his time is that they include Tor links that are supposed to be “your personal home page”. If you follow them though, you will just end up at a page that looks like the original instruction page that pops up when you are first notified of your new infection. DO NOT click on these links!
The third page that pops up is reminiscent of the original CryptoLocker providing a little countdown timer. Originally the timer represented the time you had left before they would destroy your personal encryption key, this time it states that when it runs out you will be charged double for their not so friendly decryption services. This go around i’s $500 – $600 and then $1000 – $1200 after the timer expires which appears to begin the countdown at 120 hours. With previous attacks, the payments were accepted through Western Union or Moneygram, this time they’re back to Bitcoin, and Bitcoin only.
This is a very nasty bug. Not only does it encrypt local files, but it also seeks out and encrypts attached storage as well as network shares and encrypts everything on those as well. If you have a cloud based storage system like DropBox open and logged in on your system it attempts to encrypt those files as well. It is not recommended that anyone pay these criminals the ransom they demand. We have not heard that anyone has paid and gotten their files back – the criminals just continue to bleed the user dry until the user stops paying additional money then they just stop responding.
This particular variation requires the recipient of the email to click on the DropBox link to retrieve a Zip file. The Zip file must then be opened. Inside that reveals a file by the name of Fax-932971.scr, note the screensaver .scr extension. Once the file is removed from the Zip it then appears as a pdf icon.
The ONLY way to combat this challenge is to remain HYPER ALERT AND VIGILANT to any and all emails that contain attachments. DO NOT CLICK ON ANY email attachments, faxes, bank transfers, PDF files, ZIP files.
This Trojan employs a very complex encryption algorithm and its removal has evaded everyone so far. There is currently no antivirus or anti-malware program that can protect you from this nor can it remove and fix the problem afterwards. The ONLY RECOURSE available for anyone that gets infected is to isolate the compromised machines from their networks, format and re-install the affected systems and servers and then restore them from backups. In many cases, unless you have a comprehensive offsite backup solution, your critical data is encrypted and unable to be restored. We have found that even paying the ransom will not get your data back as the criminals do not respond even after you’ve sent the money.