The threat of ransomware has been increasing at alarming rates, with even more bad news coming. And it seems that these campaigns have become more simple for hackers to carry out, thanks to Tox Ransomware. Today, they are offering a free ransomware kit for people to download and use as they see fit.
What is ransomware? It’s a computer virus that encrypts all your files and locks the user out until the ransom has been paid, typically through Bitcoins. Ransomware is a big threat that continues to grow through the advancement of cyber-criminal methods. Many victims, local police departments included, will pay the ransom just to have their personal and important files back in their hands.
Thanks to Tox Ransomware, non-tech users can now easily threaten others with ransomware. It was developed by an anonymous web hacker so that anyone could set up a virus for free. That’s right! Tox is free for everyone to use. The way hackers make money is by taking a 20% cut from any successful campaigns users carry out.
McAfee security researchers found the kit and learned that Tox operates on the TOR network. They also found that there’s no need for any technical skills to use it. In fact, it seems that nearly anyone is now able to carry out a ransomware attack.
It takes mere seconds to develop and set up your ransomware. All you have to do is make an account through the Tox website. There’s no need to give out personal identifying information such as your email address. Once registered, there are three steps to make your own malware:
- Set the desired ransom amount that you want victims to pay.
- Determine the ‘cause’ − the reason people are being held hostage to malware.
- Fill in the captcha and hit Create.
According to McAfee, the process produces a 2MB executable that’s disguised as a .scr file. Tox Ransomware users will dispense this file, installing it where they see fit. The Tox site, which operates on the TOR network, keeps track of all installs and makes a profit. In order to withdraw the money, users need only to give a receiving Bitcoin address.
Afterwards, this customized ransomware is ready to be downloaded and spread. Infected computers can send the virus further through email attachments, similar to what you see with phishing emails. When the victim unintentionally opens the .scr file, it will encrypt all data on the system and proceed to blackmail the user until the payment in Bitcoins has been made.
How to protect yourself
Most people think that the only way to get rid of ransomware is to pay the cyber crooks off. However, with a free ransomware decryption and malware removal toolkit, you can deal with the issue yourself − no money involved!
Of course, there are several important steps you need to take to protect your computer completely from any type of ransomware attack:
- Be sure to regularly back up your important information – files, pictures, etc.
- Have a reliable antivirus security program installed on your computer.
- Don’t open email attachments from people you don’t know or trust.