Dangerous new ransomware Locky threatens to throw away the key


There's a new strain of ransomware to be aware of, similar to Dridex, which goes by the name of Locky.

Ransomware is malware which locks files (encrypting them) on the victim's computer, and demands payment to decrypt them. It's a threat to both consumers and businesses – and indeed small businesses are increasingly finding themselves the target of cyber-attackers and ransom demands.

Locky is apparently normally delivered (like Dridex) in a Word document attached to an email, disguised as an invoice that needs a macro. If the document is opened and macros are enabled on the victim's PC, the ransomware will take hold.

Typically, the subject line of the malicious email will be: "ATTN: Invoice_J-", where '' is an eight figure number.

As ever, be very careful around any Word attachment you receive no matter what the source. If there's anything suspicious about the file name or message content, it's always better to be safe than sorry.

Palo Alto Networks highlighted this threat (as spotted by PC World), and noted: "Researchers suspect there is a link between the Dridex botnet affiliate 220 and Locky due to similar styles of distribution, overlapping filenames, and an absence of campaigns from this particularly aggressive affiliate coinciding with the initial emergence of Locky."

If this ransomware does hit your machine, it will demand payment in Bitcoins.

Palo Alto Networks says it has observed almost 450,000 sessions of this malware, spread across the globe and including the UK. However, most of Locky's activity is in the US with 54% of targets located there.

Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel - 'I Know What You Did Last Supper' - was published by Hachette UK in 2013).