April Fools day aside, security issues are no laughing matter, and now that ransomware is proving to be more of a pest than expected, one security company has rocked up with a free for all fix in case you need it.
One of the more notorious and serious security exploits affecting computers at the moment is a nasty little concept called “ransomware”, and if you’ve ever has the misfortune of seeing this exploit, you know how dangerous it is.
The technology preys on our likelihood of not backing up and also opening files we don’t actually mean to, with ransomware locking down critically used files when opened and forcing a ransom in order to get them to be unlocked.
In the past few months, we’ve seem quite a few of these turn up, and one security company has had enough, building a freeware product to protect PC owners against one of the more popular strains, CryptoWall.
“Ransomware is not only technologically challenging for both users and antimalware companies, but its success in extorting money is inspiring other cybercriminal groups to enter the ransomware business,” said Catalin Cosoi, Chief Security Strategist at Bitdefender.
”The tool we are releasing today blocks the encryption process even if the computer becomes infected.”
So how does it work?
According to Bogdan Botezatu, a Senior E-Threat Analyst at Bitdefender, the Windows-only tool us about stopping the infection from ever taking place, essentially stopping ransomware in its tracks before it has the potential to destroy anything.
“When a ransomware strain infects a computer, they plant what we call a “flag” to mark that the respective computer had already been infected,” he said.
“When the ransomware attempts to run and detects the presence of the flag, it exits the decryption procedure and leaves the files intact. The Anti-Ransomware tool computes and sets these flags to generate what we call ‘an immune response’.”
That immune response is a little like white blood cells attacking a virus in your body, but acting at a hyper-fast level and thwarting it immediately, which means the affected ransomware can’t gain a foothold and lock files up.
Right now, the Bitdefender solution is only available for Windows-based computers particularly because of how heavy the spate of ransomware is on Windows, but Botezatu did say that it is looking at potentially porting the solution to Linux and Mac OS if the exploit becomes more severe and infects greater amounts of computers with those operating systems.
“CryptoWall is one of the most prolific strains of crypto-ransomware,” he said to GadgetGuy.
“In one year, it managed to extort an estimated of US $380 million by denying access to the files. Already at version 4.0, Cryptowall is constantly undergoing development.”
That’s not good news for people keen on keeping their files away from the mitts of cybercriminals, but at least security companies are on it, with this just giving you yet one more reason to make sure you have up-to-date internet security on your computer.