I have posted previously on the topic of Internet safety concerning cyber-extortion schemes that are giving IT folks fits, both in schools and business. Today, listening to the latest Security Now Podcast, I learned about new “ransomware” trojan horse malware that is being used in a similar, malicious spirit as other types of cyberattacks.

According to the June 2nd article, “Sophos Cracks Archiveus Ransomware Code”:

Archiveus is not the first example of ransomware. In March 2006, the Zippo Trojan horse demanded US$300 for the safe return of users’ encrypted data. The following month, the Ransom-A Trojan horse threatened to delete stolen files one by one until a ransom was paid.

These types of files can often be blocked by a mailserver, but inevitably some are going to get through. The best defense toward these and other schemes aiming to damage computer data, hijack computers, extort money, or steal user identities is a proactive education program. Computer users of all ages need to be informed about all aspects of Internet safety, not just strategies for avoiding scams.

I think the proliferation of phishing and other types of malicious software attacks shows the vital need for critical thinking, inside and outside of schools! Students as well as teachers need to develop robust capacities for making decisions based on available information. This skill set can be quite different than those required to successfully bubble in the scantron answer sheet for a multiple choice examination.

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