Britain might face its worst-ever cyber attack on Tuesday night. The country’s National Crime Agency had warned people on June 2 to brace themselves against a “powerful computer attack” involving a strain of malware known as Gameover Zeus. Its alternative names are GoZeuS and P2PZeus.
GoZeuS is designed to steal banking information from personal computers, while CryptoLocker encrypts user-created files such as business documents and photographs, only releasing them in return for a ransom of hundreds of pounds. The attack is expected on the night on June 17.
In a last ditch attempt, the NCA on Tuesday reminded UK computer users that there is still time to protect themselves.
The NCA announced “an international operation had temporarily weakened the global network of infected computers, providing a particularly strong two-week opportunity for members of the public to rid themselves of the malware and help prevent future infection. By updating security software, running system scans to detect and clear infections, and checking that computer operating systems are up to date, individuals and businesses can take advantage of the criminal network’s relative weakness. The NCA strongly recommends taking these steps as soon as possible before midnight on June 17”.
The NCA is also emphasizing the dangers of opening ‘spam’ e-mails and downloading unknown attachments—the most common means of infection.
Current indications are that UK GoZeuS and CryptoLocker infections have reduced since June 2, but thousands of systems remain affected or at risk.
Andy Archibald, deputy director of the NCA’s National Cyber Crime Unit, said: “This is about taking a few simple steps to keep your money and personal information in your hands, rather than those of international criminals. While there is never a bad time to maximise your online security, and it is something we should all do regularly, acting now can provide unprecedented levels of protection from these types of malware. If you haven’t already, we urge individuals and small businesses alike to take action before midnight.”