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Online attack holds files to ransom

Rochdale nurse hit by ransomware

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Manchester Police are investigating the case of a woman whose computer files were moved into a password-protected file she could not get into.

The only file she could access contained instructions on getting her files back. Helen Barrow, a student nurse, was told to buy drugs from an online store and in exchange would be sent the password to get her files back. The files included family photographs and work for her nursing degree.

The cheeky filenappers even suggested she sell the drugs on if she didn't want to keep them. Similar cases have been seen in the US, but Ms Barrow is believed to be the first victim of this kind of crime in the UK.

Peter Sommer, security expert and expert witness, told the Reg: "I think this is the first time we've seen this in the UK and I suspect a lot of people will get caught out. The chances of a successful investigation are virtually nil because it would require a lot of international cooperation."

Sommer added that the vulnerability itself was well-known and can be avoided by keeping virus signatures up-to-date.

The attack uses the Arhiveus virus to infect the computer before moving the files.

Ms Barrow contacted Greater Manchester Police and a local computer expert helped fix her machine and recover most of the files. Greater Manchester Police could not comment by press time.

A GMP spokesman said: "GMP's High Tech Crime Unit is aware of this new type of crime, and that incidents of this kind could increase in future.

"The role of the unit is forensic computing. We examine seized computers and extract evidence from them. The work is very specialised, with an average investigation lasting two to three weeks or more. The unit was established in 1995 and is now the second biggest in the country. The unit is made up of a mix of civilian police staff and police officers."

More details from the Manchester Evening News here.

In other virus news, Panda is warning users about Trojan DigiKeyGen which claims to offer free access codes for porn sites. In fact, it installs several pieces of crapware and demands $50 to remove them.

More details here. ®

High performance access to file storage

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