‘Ransomware’ on Appropriators’ Minds
Posted at 11:30 a.m. on May 27, 2014
The problem of “ransomware” has drawn the attention of the House members who wrote the proposed fiscal 2015 spending bill for law enforcement, science and technology programs, which is up for a floor vote later this week.
The Appropriations Committee’s report accompanying the Commerce-Justice-Science bill includes this section on the swindling malware:
The Committee is aware of a growing threat to U.S. businesses from computer malware known as ‘ransomware,’ which infects computer systems and encrypts files or renders computers unusable until a payment is made to the extorter to unlock the systems. The Committee directs the FBI to report no later than 120 days after enactment of this Act on the number of known cases in fiscal year 2014, the suspected sources of ransomware attacks, and how the FBI assists U.S. businesses to protect themselves from such attacks or, if necessary, respond to them. The report should also propose administrative or legislative actions to enable the FBI and U.S. industry to respond to this problem.
Citing law enforcement and computer experts, USA Today writes that hackers have moved to attacking businesses with ransomware, and not just individuals.
Owners of Apple devices in Australia have reportedly received messages demanding payment to unlock their devices. Ars Technica in its story looks at an Apple support forum discussion and calls it a “variation on so-called ransomware scams.”