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Report on Police Ransomware Released by Europol

Softpedia.com reported on 5th February, 2014 stating that Cybercrime Center at Europe (EC3) at Europol has published a report on police ransomware with its' impact on cyberspace.

EC3 and the Dutch National High Tech Crime Unit (NHTCU) recommended many steps to counter such threats and also to raise awareness of ransomware.

Perpetrators used a type of online fraud, police ransomware, to extort money by deploying malicious software. The malware disables the function of the computer of the victim and displays a message demanding an amount of money through a prepaid online payment system to give access to the machine. The message apparently contains law enforcement action against illegal online behavior by the victim like illegal sharing of file, downloading of material on child abuse or accessing to websites of terrorist. They used the law enforcement symbol to make the message look authentic and to compel victims into making payment.

However, it is difficult to evaluate the actual number of victims of police ransomware in the EU, it is expected that millions of computers have been infected and tens of thousands of users have paid ransom money making it a multimillion euro business for the criminals.

It is easy to deploy this ransomware as even less technical criminals can also do it. The proceeds are easy to launder as virtual currencies are utilized and also it is difficult to investigate such activities because of spreading of malicious actors and the infrastructure used across many legal jurisdictions.

Troels Oerting, Head of the European Cybercrime Centre at Europol, says that malware attacks in the form of ransomware will increase as it is easy to use and its a cash cow for criminals and moreover victims find it difficult to protect themselves against this malware. Thepaypers.com published a report on 7th February, 2014 stating that businesses and public services also become victim besides innocent and mainstream users.

Oerting concluded that EC3 will continue to assist members of state's law enforcement at EU to combat this crime and trace the criminal proceeds.

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