New Ransomware Does The Unforgivable – Forgets How To Unlock Your Files

Ransomware is a whole new level of problems for computer users. Previously malicious software, or malware for short, would spread causing chaos and destruction wherever it could, but ransomware is a little more targeted. Ransomware is designed to stop you from accessing your files and in order to gain access you are normally requested to pay an account a sum of money. With the kind of details you store on your computers these days, can you afford not to pay? Even the FBI say pay the ransom, but what happens when they don’t decrypt your files, granting you access which you’ve just paid a lot of money for. It’s a risk many take and many more will have to suffer thanks to the ransomware Power Worm, which forgets how to decrypt your files.

Encryption is the process in which using a key (similar to a password) you jumble up a file, making it extremely difficult to read or access without knowing the password that was used to encrypt it in the first place. Power worm does the usual, gets into the system and then encrypts your files but thanks to a NULL result in its code it forgets to store the key, meaning even if you pay its impossible to retrieve your files.

Please protect your files with regular backups on an external memory device and be careful when downloading or running any software.

Image courtesy of NSK Inc.

Hundreds of Wikipedia Editors Caught Promoting Brands

Hundreds of Wikipedia editors have been banned from the online encyclopaedia after being found promoting products and brands within articles for pay. Wikipedia’s CheckUser team has been investigating suspected brand promotion for a number of months, and banned 381 editors between April and August, with suspicions that companies had been paying for sock puppet accounts to push products and service over Wikipedia for a long time.

Rather than being instigated by companies, however, it was the editors themselves who were the masterminds behind the scheme. They were effectively extorting the businesses they were advertising, creating articles populated with promotional links, then approaching companies for a $30 monthly fee to keep the articles active.

Wikipedia has deleted any article deemed to have been created for promotional purposes by the offending sock puppet accounts, but it still in the process of investigating other suspected cases of paid-for advertising.

A statement on Wikipedia’s administrator board reads:

The list of articles created by the socks is located at Wikipedia:Long-term abuse/Orangemoody/Articles. This list is not considered complete; due to time constraints, there may be additional articles created by these socks that are not included here. Most articles relate to businesses, businesspeople, or “artists”.

Review of this list of articles reveals that the overwhelming majority of them would qualify for deletion under one or more speedy deletion criteria. In this specific case, however, in order to prevent article subjects from continued shakedowns by bad actors who are causing significant harm to the reputation of this project, the articles are all being deleted. It is important to break the cycle of payment demands, and to make it clear that the Wikipedia community, and not a small group of paid editor accounts, controls the content of this project. This mass deletion is without prejudice to recreation by experienced Wikipedians who believe that the subject is sufficiently notable for an article. We emphasize again that all indications are that the editing was not solicited by the article subjects.

Because so many of the articles contain unattributed material and/or copyvios, administrators are urged NOT to undelete articles or move them to userspace.

Thank you Vice Motherboard for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

Silk Road Investigator Guilty of Stealing From Site

The head of the Baltimore task force that was investigating the Silk Road black market website has pled guilty to using the site to extort money, and even admitted to agreeing a $240k deal for the movie rights to his investigation with a major Hollywood studio. Carl Mark Force has admitted to charges of extortion, money laundering, and obstruction of justice – all conducted while he was investigating Silk Road – in front of US District Judge Richard Seeborg in San Francisco.

Under the online pseudonym ‘Nob’, the government-sanctioned account through which the investigation was conducted, Force interacted with Dread Pirate Roberts, the username of Silk Road creator Ross Ulbricht, over Silk Road, during which he took bitcoin payments from Ulbricht that he did not declare to his superiors, instead diverting the funds into his personal accounts. Ulbricht was sentenced to life imprisonment earlier this year for his involvement in Silk Road.

Force set up a second Silk Road account, ‘French Maid’, through which he accumulated around $100,000 in bitcoins by selling law enforcement “counter-intelligence”. A third account, ‘Death From Above’, was used, unsuccessfully, by Force for further extortion.

The court also found that Force was operating under two conflicts of interest, having agreed to sell the film rights to the Silk Road investigation to 20th Century Fox for $240,000 in 2014, unbeknownst to his bosses at the DEA, and using his company CoinMKT to confiscate money by using his law enforcement credentials. Force took $370,000 from a single user, depositing $37,000 in a DEA account and pocketing the rest.

Force will be sentenced in October.

Thank you Ars Technica for providing us with this information.