Hackers could force ransom victims to do 'dirty work'

Users could be drawn into data attackers' schemes, claims Gartner...

Users could be drawn into data attackers' schemes, claims Gartner...

Hackers could try to ransom PC users' data in an attempt to draw then into their schemes and force them to do the thieves' 'dirty work' according to analyst house Gartner.

Last week it was revealed that online extortionists are remotely encrypting users files on PCs and then demanding money for the key to decode the information.

Nervous users in the future may pay up to blackmailers just because of the threat of having their files locked, the analyst said.

But Gartner said thieves may find it difficult to extract money through this kind of attack because such payments could be tracked, and so hackers may look to benefit in other ways.

The analyst warns: "The threat of hostage data could also be used for other forms of extortion, with users compelled to perform 'dirty work' to recover their files."

And it added: "Thieves could unlock the files gradually, drawing the users deeper into their schemes."

Companies should make sure they have a vulnerability management process in place to ensure they patch systems, eliminate weaknesses in administrative processes, find and fix security configuration errors, and shield vulnerable systems.

"All users, in both personal and business settings, need to keep their patches up-to-date, and their systems properly configured and protected," the anayst said.

Companies should also perform regular backups on all fixed and mobile workstations.

Gartner added: "This should be a wake-up call to remind everyone to mitigate vulnerabilities and perform regular backups."