Alert over powerful new computer virus that holds its victims’ data to ransom

August 5, 2014

Swindon businesses are being warned of a new computer virus with the potential to lock down their systems and hold them to ransom.

The alert comes from Sensata, the Royal Wootton Bassett-based IT services firm, which believes the CTB-Locker bug is more potent and resilient than the recent, much-publicised Cryptolocker virus and presents a real danger to unsuspecting businesses.

Sensata technical director Chris Griffin said: “We all get unexpected emails and invariably the spam is easy to spot.

“However, these emails look very convincing and usually purport to be from HMRC or a bank. We would strongly urge anyone who receives a suspicious email like this not to open it, but delete it. Should it be opened, they should shut down their system immediately and seek professional IT help.”

Once activated, CTB-Locker runs in the background encrypting files across the victim’s entire network. When this is complete, it presents a message advising them to pay a ‘ransom’ to decrypt the files.

However, the key used to decrypt the files is stored on a remote command-and-control server, which can only be accessed over the anonymous Tor network. This makes it near impossible for law enforcement agencies to identify and shut down the server, as they did with Cryptolocker.

Chris added: “We had two clients who fell victim to the Cryptolocker virus, but in both instances we were able to rescue their data. Fortunately our clients have not been affected by the CTB-Locker, but its potential danger is clear to see. As with the Cryptolocker, there is no guarantee that the decryption key exists, rendering the affected files useless.”

Sensata, which this year celebrates its 10th anniversary, offers a full range of IT support services to businesses throughout the region and has solved many virus issues for clients over the past decade. The company recently moved from Swindon to larger premises in Royal Wootton Bassett to accommodate a growing team and expanding client base.

All its technicians are Microsoft-certified and Chris Griffin is a member of the British Computing Society.

Pictured: Sensata's technical team. Front row, Janet and Chris Griffin, and back row, from left, Peter Biggs, Aaron Kharaud, Wesley Dowdell, Paul Griffiths and Phil Cater


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