Gach do bonn a mbaineann a chur chugainn

Posted by   Virus Bulletin on   Sep 10, 2012

Why cybercriminals may have a reason for using Irish language in a ransomware scam.

According to a story that made the security headlines this weekend, and which seems to orginate from the Donegal Daily, a ransomware trojan has been discovered using Irish Gaelic as its language.

Ransomware trojans aren't new: they deny access to a device and demand a ransom to be paid to unlock it. In a version of the scam that has been spreading for some time, the Reveton trojan prevents users from accessing their computer unless a 'fine' is paid, allegedly for illegal activity from their IP address. Indeed, this trojan adapts the language and police force logo used in its messages depending on the victim's location.

But why would someone conduct such a scam in Irish Gaelic? Everyone in Ireland speaks very good English and while the country is officially bilingual, those fluent in the Irish language form only a small minority of the population. For most people, the only Gaelic they encounter regularly is found on road signs and in official government communications.

And it is for the latter reason that some Irish people I spoke to at a security event in Dublin earlier this year told me that when they receive the occasional email scam in Gaelic, their initial thought is that it may be something official. The Gaelic used in the scam emails tends to be far from perfect and probably the output of an online translation service, but the researchers admitted that their level of understanding of the language was barely good enough to notice.

It is easy to laugh at those engaged in online crime and think they must have misunderstood the Wikipedia entry for Ireland, which describes Irish as the "national language". But they may be more clever than we realise.

Posted on 10 September 2012 by Martijn Grooten



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