Computer Users Warned Of Global Cyber Virus

In scary news this week, computer users around the world have been warned to take urgent action to protect themselves from a global cyber virus.

The virus, Gameover Zeus, first appeared in September 2011 and stole bank information and other confidential details from victims and infected between 500,000 and 1 million computers in 12 countries.

The Australian Federal Police has helped the United States and 10 other countries stop the spread of the hacker network, and according to the FBI, losses from the theft of bank information have been estimated at $100 million in the US alone.

Gameover Zeus has spread worldwide but has been temporarily disabled by the international effort by law enforcement agencies.

Potential victims can protect themselves but have only a short time to do so before the hackers can rebuild their network, as the AFP warns Australians the virus could start emptying bank accounts in a fortnight.

How It Spreads:

The Gameover Zeus virus encrypted the computers of its victims and demanded a ransom, often in excess of $750, in exchange for the password to unlock them. A Massachusetts police department was asked to pay $811 after having its investigative files encrypted.

The worldwide spread of the virus created a network of "bots" that hackers could infiltrate and spy on from anywhere.

This is pretty scary stuff, especially for small business owners. And while the virus is halted for now, it doesn’t mean it’s safe to rest easy.

A survey of Australian small business owners found that almost half have experienced a cyber-attack in the last 12 months, with a third copping a ransom ware attack by internet pirates.

So it’s worth thinking about your business data and how protected it is, especially when it comes to cloud and mobile technologies.

McAfee’s Global CTO for Security Connected, Michael Sentonas says sophisticated ransom ware attacks on businesses will be on the rise as cyber criminals broaden their reach from consumers to businesses.

“We expect to see an increase in mobile malware, which effectively locks the user out of his or her device or machine so the cyber criminals can access data, to have an impact on businesses via their increasingly mobile workforces. Hactivism attacks which usually target governments are anticipated to spill over into business and enterprise markets,”
said Sentonas.

The key here is being aware of the risks and minimising opportunities. Users are recommended to use and maintain anti-virus software, change passwords, and keep operating systems up to date.

“Businesses need to understand the cyber security risks to their operations and take steps towards mitigating the opportunities for attackers, because while there is financial gain to be made and easy opportunities to steal intellectual property, cyber-attacks will continue,” Sentonas said.

So work with your IT partner, keep software up-to-date and ensure employees are aware of cyber security. Because a few small steps now can save a lot of headache and loss further down the track.

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