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NITDA to Nigerians: Don’t pay ransom to IGVM

Chidi Ogbuokiri

The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) has advised Nigerians to be wary of IGVM, a file-encrypting Ransomware infection that restricts access to data (documents, images, videos) by encrypting files with the “igvm” extension.

It disclosed in a statement that the virus attempts to extort money from victims by requesting for “ransom”, in the form of Bitcoin crypto currency in exchange for access to data, adding that the crypto-virus spreads in different methods like web injectors, pirated software, spam emails, malicious software bundles, fake software updates, and deceiving online ads.

The statement signed by Mrs. Hadiza Umarmnipr, Head, Corporate Affairs and External Relations, NITDA disclosed that the primary “task of IGVM ransomware virus is to check your computer system for target file formats and encrypt them using a private RSA key. Once virus locks the files, it then runs several commands via CMD.exe to delete Volume Shadow Copies from your system.

“It equally prevents the victims from restoring their file copies for free, using Windows tools. Next, the virus modifies Windows HOSTS file by adding a list of domains to it. These domains are mostly computer or IT-relates websites, so the attackers capitalise on this measure to prevent the victim from seeking help or information online.”

To this end, NITDA urges general public to: Ensure regular data backup and recovery plan for all critical information.

Use application whitelisting to help prevent malicious software and unapproved programs from running.

Keep operating system and software up-to-date with the latest patches. Maintain up-to-date anti-virus software, and scan all software downloaded from the internet before installing.

Do not follow unsolicited web links in emails. Do not download or open suspicious email attachments, and do not open emails from suspicious recipients.

NITDA further advised against paying the ransom, even when it seems like the only reason to get ones files back, saying various cybersecurity experts do not recommend paying up due to the following reasons:

The criminals might stop responding as soon as you transfer money to their virtual wallet address;

 The so-called decryption tool can be faulty or fail to work due to data modification on your end;

 “Avoiding funding this illegal business model,” it added, “The fact that ransomware operators collect millions in ransoms each year simply encourages people to join this cybercrime industry.”

To report an incident, contact NITDA CERRT via email or via telephone +2348178774580.

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