Two weeks until doomsday: the great UK bank account hack

Business banking news review: week ending 5 June 2013

So here’s one that you should be seriously concerned about: you could have only two weeks before Russian hackers empty your personal or business bank accounts.

If it sounds like a doomsday scenario from a spy novel or something you’d see at the cinema, you’re wrong: it’s true, and it’s happening right now according to the National Crime Agency. There’s an estimated 15,000 Brits that have had their computer security compromised to the point where they’ve contracted the GameOver Zeus computer virus, a dastardly bit of computer code that could end up holding your own computer for ransom.

Here’s how it works: if you’re infected, your computer has been sending out spam e-mails for weeks behind your back in an attempt to replicate the virus. At the same time, GameOver Zeus has been scanning through your computer files for nice juicy bits of personal details and then, in a move that’s villainous in the extreme, locks you out of your computer and notifies you that you can gain access back for a price – around £300 worth in Bitcoins to be exact. Of course there’s no guarantee that once the ransom is paid that you’ll regain your control – there’s a very good chance that the virus will just keep extorting you – and before you know it your current account is empty and your savings account is dwindling as well.

Thankfully there’s been an unprecedented international effort to keep these digital thugs at bay, resulting in what experts are devising as a two-week window to get your affairs in order before the Russian-based hacking ring thought to be behind the virus gets up and running again. So in other words, you need to take steps to ensure you’re not one of those unlucky 15,000 Brits that has the virus – and you need to check now.

For what it’s worth, I know it sounds both frightening and completely implausible. However, this is something that’s too important to just laugh off. I’m imploring each and every one of you to update your anti-virus software and give our computers a thorough deep cleaning if you value your hard-earned cash. Besides, there are enough legitimate thieves behind the counters of your local High Street branch already draining your cash through banking fees, so let’s not let these foreign nationals elbow their way in to the banking community through a digital back-door, shall we?

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