Feeds

Ransomware getting harder to break

The evolution of an 'uncrackable' threat

Protecting against web application threats using SSL

Hackers may soon be pushing out ransomware packages so complex that they're beyond the decryption capabilities of the anti-virus industry, according to a study by Russian anti-virus firm Kaspersky Lab.

The report, Malware Evolution: April – June 2006, Hidden Wars, states that the creators of so-called ransomware packages are making the lives of security researchers more difficult by using more powerful and sophisticated encryption algorithms. Ransomware packages use malicious code to gain control of user files, encrypt them and threaten users that they won't see these files again unless they hand over a cash "ransom" to hackers.

Examples of ransomware malware, which made its first appearance only months ago, include Gpcode, Cryzip, and Krotten. At first the encryption approaches taken by hackers were crude. But Gpcode-AC, first detected in January 2006, used the RSA algorithm to create a 56-bit key. Since then, the unknown author of the virus has produced variants that use more complex encryption keys. The last detected variant Gpcode-AG uses a 660-bit key.

"We were able to decrypt 330 and 660-bit keys within a reasonably short space of time, but a new variant, with a longer key, could appear at any time. If RSA, or any other similar algorithm which uses a public key, were to be used in a new virus, anti-virus companies might find themselves powerless, even if maximum computing power was applied to decrypting the key," warns Aleks Gostev, senior virus analyst, Kaspersky Lab.

Kaspersky Lab warns that even if the original authors of ransomware families are tracked down there's nothing to prevent other hackers from developing the technique. Security firms might succeed in developing approaches that make it impossible for malicious users to encrypt or archive users' data. But users have the power to render ransomware attacks impotent by regularly backing up documents and email databases, a sensible security precaution that's all too infrequently applied. ®

Reducing the cost and complexity of web vulnerability management

More from The Register

next story
Spies would need SUPER POWERS to tap undersea cables
Why mess with armoured 10kV cables when land-based, and legal, snoop tools are easier?
Early result from Scots indyref vote? NAW, Jimmy - it's a SCAM
Anyone claiming to know before tomorrow is telling porkies
Apple Pay is a tidy payday for Apple with 0.15% cut, sources say
Cupertino slurps 15 cents from every $100 purchase
Israeli spies rebel over mass-snooping on innocent Palestinians
'Disciplinary treatment will be sharp and clear' vow spy-chiefs
YouTube, Amazon and Yahoo! caught in malvertising mess
Cisco says 'Kyle and Stan' attack is spreading through compromised ad networks
Hackers pop Brazil newspaper to root home routers
Step One: try default passwords. Step Two: Repeat Step One until success
China hacked US Army transport orgs TWENTY TIMES in ONE YEAR
FBI et al knew of nine hacks - but didn't tell TRANSCOM
Microsoft to patch ASP.NET mess even if you don't
We know what's good for you, because we made the mess says Redmond
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.