US state prosecutor’s office paid bitcoin ransom

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A Pennsylvania state prosecutor’s office paid nearly $1,400 worth of bitcoins to free up its computer network which was infected from an email that has been traced to Australia.
 
The news comes after the shutdown of the Avalanche cybercrime network by authorities from the European Union and the US, according to a report from The Associated Press.
 
The detail came to light from court filings made by federal prosecutors who did not name the state government office that was among the victims of the malware distribution platform.
 
However, The Associated Press managed to confirm from Stephen Zappala Jr., the Allegheny County district attorney, that it was his office that was victimised.
 
Through the Avalanche malware platform, ransomware – or software that disable a computer until a ransom is paid – infected the computer system of the prosecutor’s office in January 2015, the report notes.
 
The malware was installed after an employee clicked on a link in an email which was socially engineered to look like it was pointing to a “legitimate government agency,” the district attorney told the news organisation. According to the report, Zappala’s detective traced the email to Australia.
 
The Avalanche group is said to have operated since at least 2010. They have infected at least 500,000 computers worldwide, acting US Attorney in Pittsburgh Soo Song revealed, according to The Associated Press.
 
Zappala said that his office’s computer network has been upgraded to protect it from similar attacks.

 
Related stories:
Law firms to grow cyber teams while failing to bolster own security
High demand inspires Herbert Smith Freehills to launch cybersecurity hotline
 

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