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From time to time I hear people who don’t use antivirus software claim that it doesn’t matter, there isn’t anything of value on their computer. To begin with, just controlling your computer is of value to some criminals. If I can control your computer I can get paid to send spam from it, to install malicious software and try to make you pay to get rid of it, attack other computers with your computer, and store illegal software such as child pornography. If you get caught with my illegal software on your computer it can be very difficult to prove you didn’t put it there. People have had their lives seriously harmed, some would say destroyed, by having illegal pornography that they didn’t even know was on their computer.
This is all old hat, but there is a new twist. The BBC reported http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/8622665.stm a new piece of malware in Japan called Kenzero. This Trojan is usually found when people download pirated software. The malware will upload the user’s browsing history to the web and make it public. The next step is that the user gets an email or a pop up message demanding ransom. If the user provides their credit card, the only thing that happens is that the criminals behind Kenzero then sell the credit card details.
Malware that demands ransom is often called ransomware and has become increasingly more popular. So, what do you do to protect against this type of threat? You don’t do anything special. You do the same things to protect against all types of malware. In addition to using security software, use your brain. If you are downloading illegal software, you are getting your software from a thief. Why do you think the thief wouldn’t steal from you too? There are very, very few “Robin Hood” characters out there and a ton of online thieves who don’t care if you are rich or poor.
Using legal software and common sense, however uncommon it may seem to be, will help you avoid some real hassles.
Director of Technical Education
Author ESET Research, ESET