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!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
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

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?