The Department of Homeland Security along with the FBI and Department of Justice have made sweeping moves to shut down the systems of the GameOver Zeus Botnet. GameOver, which has infected hundreds of thousands of computers around the globe, allows cyber criminals to gain access to bank accounts, specifically pulling account numbers and access credentials.
Now, there's a two-week window for companies and consumers to protect themselves. After that, another wave of Botnets is expected to become active. GameOver can take down a machine (Windows PCs, specifically) through phishing attacks. Phishing generally comes in the form of emails that look legitimate, such as bills and bank statements, but are coming from a spoofed email address.
GameOver is one of the most elaborate cyber threats on the Internet today. The security agencies who have worked to take it down are also seeking the culprit behind it. They believe that GameOver and another virus, Cryptolocker (which stole your files and held them for ransom), were the doings of a Russian hacker gang, run by Evgeniy Bogachev. Bogachev is now on a number of Most Wanted criminal lists.
Leslie Caldwell, the head of the Justice Department's Criminal Division, said "Evgeniy Bogachev and the members of his criminal network devised and implemented the kind of cyber-crimes that you might not believe if you saw them in a science fiction movie," she explained further, "By secretly implanting viruses on computers around the world, they built a network of infected machines – or ‘bots’ – that they could infiltrate, spy on, and even control, from anywhere they wished.”
Bogachev has successfully moved millions of dollars since 2011 through GameOver. The government believes the damage total is around $100 million. Cryptolocker has made bank too — people have paid out about $27 million in ransom payments. The file ransoming system has attacked everything from top secret work files to family photos, and users generally pay up (though you really, really shouldn't pay the ransom.)
So, in the next two weeks, make efforts to set up virus scanners, strength your security, and clean out old files. And print out your family photos, just in case.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.