Criminals have used bogus USB sticks in an attempt to trick householders into installing ransomware on their PCs.
(CCM) — Criminals in Australia have been leaving USB drives infected with malware in mailboxes in a suburban town near Melbourne, the capital of the State of Victoria, according to a New York Times report. The memory sticks are disguised as offers for Netflix or similar services, but once inserted into a computer, they introduce ransomware that encrypts the contents of the hard drive, rendering it inaccessible. The data can usually only be decrypted if the owner cedes to the criminals' demands to pay a ransom to receive the decryption key, although a group called No More Ransom offers free software that can provide the keys to some variants of ransomware. Local law enforcement officer Gut Matheson said that two or three people had already fallen victim to the ransomware, according to the report.
This infection technique has long been used by spies and government agents to break in to hard-to-reach computers, says malicious software expert Nikola Milosevic. The Stuxnet virus, which is believed to have been developed by Israel and the U.S. and which was used to attack Iran's nuclear centrifuges in 2010, was introduced into Iran's nuclear facilities on USB drives used by Iranian personnel or Russian contractors.
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