Johnson Warns of Malware Software That Could Be Lying Dormant on Thousands of Computers

Lake Havasu City, AZ – Supervisor Buster Johnson would like to make the public aware of two malicious software schemes that have already stolen over $100 million from individuals and businesses worldwide. Johnson, who sits as one of the Vice-Chairs for the National Association of Counties (NACo) Cyber Security Task Force, is urging computer users to take the required steps necessary to protect themselves from these malicious software programs. “These programs have the power to drain an individual’s bank account without them even knowing it,” Johnson said. The U.S. Justice Department has announced that anywhere between 500,000 and 1 million machines worldwide were affected by the virus’s known as Gameover Zeus which steals banking passwords and Crytolocker, which encrypts files and blackmails the users for their release. The Gameover Zeus software has seen the most activity in the United States by hitting over 13% of all computers in the nation. According to the FBI, this software is highly sophisticated. The malware can disguise unapproved payments that are made making an individual think that everything is normal by keeping track of account balances and automatically correcting the numbers on the balances to hide its tracks. “People need to be aware of this dangerous malware. It not only can hide its tracks, but also once installed on a computer, this software has the ability to evade anti-virus software,” Johnson stated. According to the The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Gameover Zeus infects a user’s machine when they open a PDF or click on a link sent to them in an email. An international police effort led by the FBI and security giant Symantec was able to shut down the malicious software this week, but officials with the FBI are still warning users to take steps to protect their systems. The FBI is reporting that users have two weeks to clean up their hard drives and install anti-virus software before the Russian-led band of hackers responsible for Gameover Zeus will be able to make their network operational again. According to officials with the FBI, this malware has been so difficult to shut down because it uses peer-to-peer software, meaning that even if the main server is shut down, infected computers can continue to communicate with one another and continue operating. The Crytolocker software, thought to be linked to Gameover Zeus, is also affecting thousands of Americans and businesses nationwide. According to the FBI, this malware often comes into effect if the user is not a ‘viable’ victim for Gameover Zeus and the network cannot access their financial details. “Crytolocker locks your computer, encrypts files and demands a ransom for them to be unlocked,” Johnson explained. DHS has set up a website to help victims remove the malware, From that website, computer users can download tailored anti-virus software which has been provided for free. Experts have also warned users to back-up all valuable data and to ensure that all operating systems have the latest updates installed. Many of those whose computers have … Continue Reading →

New Tech Support Scams Attacking Netflix & Gmail Users

Lake Havasu City, AZ – Supervisor Buster Johnson would like to make the public aware of a new growing trend that has been surfacing more frequently on the internet. “Tech support scams from the outside may look very legit. With these scams, individuals claim to be computer techs associated with well-known companies like Google and Netflix,” Supervisor Johnson stated. In the past few days users of both Netflix and Gmail have reported their accounts being hacked with this particular type of scam. “Tech support scams first surfaced in 2008 and have become one of the most popular types of phishing attacks on the internet today. With over 40 million Netflix users and over 140 million Gmail accounts worldwide, hackers have moved on from attacking small, not well known websites to largely populist ones,” Johnson continued. When it comes to tech support scams like the recent ones reported by Netflix users, individuals are informed that unusual activity has been detected on their account and asked to a call a support line. While users believe they are calling the real support line for Netflix, what they are really calling is a 1-800 number that directs them to a call center in India where hackers are trained to trick users into giving them access to their computer by downloading software aimed at getting rid of the virus they claim has attacked one’s computer system. The scammers will not only steal sensitive files from their computer, but swindle them out of $400 to “fix” the hacking problem. “Our personal computers are becoming the storing house of all our sensitive information. Individuals now a day store mostly everything on their personal computer from banking information to copies of tax returns that contain one’s social security number,” Johnson said. “It is important folks are aware of these types of scams so they don’t fall victim to them,” Johnson continued. If confronted with a similar message when trying to log into one’s Gmail or Netflix account, both companies are urging users to check the web address. In the case of Netflix the user was actually redirected to a website url of If one feels they may have already become victim of such a scam, the following steps should be taken: • Revoke remote access by shutting down your computer. That should cut the remote session and kick them out of your PC. • Scan your computer for malware. The miscreants may have installed password stealers or other Trojans to capture your keystrokes. Use a program such as Malwarebytes Anti-Malware to quickly identify and remove threats. • Change all your passwords ###