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Hackers Lock Thousands of Australian Computers Demanding Ransom

There has been a massive hack attack on more than 20,000 Australian computers resulting in the freezing and locking of the computers by the hackers. The hackers used software that encrypts all files on the computers. The malevolent and destructive software then requests for a ransom in Bitcoins to unlock the computer, reported cryptocoinsnews.com on September 17, 2014.

Australian government agencies are closely monitoring and investigating the hacking of thousands different Australian computers. Multiple individuals have already paid the ransom to recover their files.

The malicious software, also known as the ransomware, which has infected the Australian computers, is called "Cryptolocker" that uses the payment wall "CryptoWall" to demand bitcoins as ransom. The infected computers received the ransomware by clicking on a link in an email supposedly from Australia Post. The files on the computers were then automatically encrypted making them inaccessible and useless to the owners. The "Cryptolocker" asks for a ransom to be paid in bitcoin within a limited timeframe. If the ransom is not paid by the end of the given time period, the ransomware warns to encrypt the files enduringly.

Digitaljournal.com published news on 17th September, 2014 quoting Aaron Bailey, Security Manager of Missing Link Security, as saying "We've spoken to around a dozen firms out of which many have conventional signature-based (malware detection) technologies of diverse flavors and vendor solutions which didn't detect the virus. We think that each iteration has been tailored enough just to escape signature-based (malware)identification even though the action of the virus is similar and the outcome is the same."

Cryptolocker was first seen in November and it hit Australian computer users via fake Energy Australia emails in June 2014. Attempts were made to stop spreading it as 30 year old Russian hacker Evgeniy Mikhailovich Bogachev was suspected to be the spear-header of a criminal gang which was liable for the malware and another malware known as Gameover Zeus.

The US Federal Bureau of Investigation estimated that Bogachev earned $US100 million through his activities.

These new variants of the software have popped up which have made authorities difficult to stop it and also created difficulty for anti-virus and malware protection software makers to detect it on the computers of the victim.

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