By Brian KrebsA virus that’s infecting hundreds of thousands of PCs around the world has spread to several countries, including the United States, but one country remains unaffected.
The malware is called Koolaid, and it’s the latest in a series of ransomware campaigns that have hit computers in the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, and the United Arab Emirates.
While some of the infections have caused widespread damage, it’s unclear whether the ransomware’s developers are able to recover their files or if other organizations will take over their systems.
“We can’t say that they’re going to recover our files, but we can say that the infections are gone,” said Chris Dixon, CEO of security firm Kaspersky Lab.
Dixon is one of the company’s partners who worked with the United Nations and several major organizations to detect and block Koolada.
“It’s really important to keep the word out there to be as alert as possible and to make sure that anyone who gets infected can get help,” he said.
“In the end, it’ll be up to the organizations to find out if there’s a way they can get it to stop.”
Dixon says he expects the attacks will be “very localized” and “only affect a small number of organizations.”
But Koolabids are spreading across the globe, as governments around the globe are scrambling to identify, block, and recover the malware.
For instance, in the UK, where Dixon’s company was working with government officials to help them fight the virus, the government is looking into whether the Koolabs have spread to other countries, such as the United American.
And a similar campaign was launched in Australia.
The UK has also launched a global effort to protect the country’s IT infrastructure, which is being led by the Office of the Information Commissioner (OIC), the body tasked with enforcing the countrys anti-ransomware laws.
The OIC is urging the public to be on the lookout for suspicious activity, and for businesses to report any suspicious activity to the agency, as well as any information they see online.
It also wants anyone who sees suspicious activity on their computer to call the OIC.
While the UK has already started to report suspicious activity and report it to the Oic, it hasn’t started tracking Koolads to a global database.
And while governments have issued a public alert to warn people about the threat, Dixon said he’s still not sure if the Oics new initiative will work.
“I can tell you it’s a good idea, but there’s still no way to catch it,” he told Ars.
Dixon said the only way to stop the Kools, and prevent the spread of more ransomware, is to educate the public about the dangers of ransomware.
He said it’s crucial to have awareness about ransomware, because people often don’t understand how it works, or how it affects a computer.
“When people don’t have a clear understanding of what ransomware is, and how to protect themselves, then the attacks are going to continue,” Dixon said.
It’s important to note that ransomware is not the only threat that’s affecting organizations, and ransomware campaigns aren’t the only type of threats.
The threat of cybercriminals who try to take control of a computer is also on the rise.
“Cybercriminals are targeting businesses to steal their personal information, to get their credentials and to steal passwords,” Dixon told Ars in a recent interview.
“You have to be able to identify who is a cybercriminal, and what they’re up to.”
Dixon said it will be important to track the spread and damage of ransomware to see if it can be prevented.
“The real challenge is not stopping the infections, but having a clear awareness about the risks of cybercrime, and making sure you’re on the right side of it,” Dixon added.
“Because if we can’t do that, then we’re not going to be prepared for future cyberattacks.”