Did You Download Windows 10 or Ransomware?

Never missing an opportunity to cause someone grief — or make a quick buck — hackers are sending out fraudulent upgrades that urge users to upgrade to Windows 10. That doesn’t seem too bad, except users are actually downloading ransomware.

The Scam

Cisco Systems wrote about the scam in a recent blog post on their website. The email going out looks like the real deal, and most unsuspecting users wouldn’t give it a second look over before simply upgrading their system. The hackers are even spoofing the sender’s email address in order to make the email look like it’s coming from an official source. The biggest giveaway is the attached .zip file that Cisco says contains ransomware called CTB-Locker.

This is an incredibly dangerous piece of malware for some people. It encrypts all of the user’s data and holds it ransom for 96 hours. If the user doesn’t make payment to the hackers in that window then the files will be encrypted forever.

How to Spot a Fake

When opening emails, there are a few givens that every user should always keep in the back of their mind: never click on any attachments that you weren’t expecting to receive, and never click on any download links. By extension, Microsoft is in the business of keeping user data safe. There are a few ways to receive a Windows 10 update, but none of those paths includes email. A user may receive an email from Microsoft just to notify the user that their Windows 10 is ready to go, but the user will install the new OS from a notification in the notification tray.

In the blog, Cisco also made an offhand mention about mangled characters in the text of the email. While this is usually a dead giveaway for any type of virus, hackers are good at adapting, so don’t rely on this method. The best course of action is to be aware of the scam and delete the email if you see it.

How to Officially Upgrade to Windows 10

If your computer is up-to-date then you will have already noticed a Windows icon in your notification tray. Clicking on this icon previously to Windows 10’s release would prompt a user to reserve their Windows 10 upgrade. The caveat to taking this path is that the upgrade could take up to two weeks to appear.

There are two more direct paths: the media creation tool, and creating an ISO disc. Those of you savvy enough to perform an upgrade from a boot drive will likely already know the steps to take. The download tool, which can be found here, is done through a simple setup wizard and will allow users to keep all of their data or perform a clean wipe. For users who have already made the jump to Windows 10, let us know how you like it in the comments below.


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