Crypto malware close to being 'uncrackable'

File-encrypting Trojans are becoming so complex that the security companies could soon be powerless to reverse their effects, a new report from Kaspersky Lab has said.

The report notes the rapid evolution of the public key encryption used by one family of crypto malware, Gpcode, which went from using 56-bit to 660-bit RSA in a matter of weeks.

Commonly termed "ransomware," Trojans that encrypt data files on a user's PC before demanding a payment in return for supplying the key to unlock the files, have come from nowhere in recent months to become a measurable problem.

At the time of the of its discovery in June Gpcode.ag -- which used a formidable 660-bit key -- Kaspersky described the process required to decrypt such a key as equivalent to setting a 2.2 GHz PC to work for thirty years.

In the event, the company managed to work out the key using a technique it was unwilling to reveal.

"We were able to decrypt 330 and 660-bit keys within a reasonably short space of time," said Aleks Gostev of Kaspersky Lab. "But a new variant with a longer key could appear at any time. If RSA, or any other similar algorithm which uses a public key, were to be used in a new virus, anti-virus companies might find themselves powerless, even if maximum computing power was applied to decrypting the key," he warned.

Gotsev raised the alarming possibility that victims could at some point in the near future have their files encrypted in such a way that the security industry would not be able to issue a fix. If this comes to pass -- and Kaspersky's claims that the day is not far off are plausible -- it will mark an important moment for the whole software security industry.

The obvious answer could be simply not to allow ransomware on to a PC in the first place, an approach that Gotsev and other security companies will be keen to stress.

The other defense will have to be more assiduous pursuit of the distributors of such products, or novel technical solutions that prohibit the low-level interference with a computer's files-system necessary for encryption to happen in the first place.

"Unfortunately, the authors behind the Gpcode, Cryzip, and Krotten ransomware are still free. However, even if they are arrested, there's nothing to prevent other malicious users from implementing such techniques in order to make money."

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

John E. Dunn

Techworld.com
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?