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Text-to-Speech Now Being Used By Ransomware

Text-to-speech in reansomware

One of the main purposes of text-to-speech technology is to improve accessibility, which in turn improves the world we live in for the greater good. However, last week it was discovered that TTS functionality is being used by cybercriminals for malicious purposes.

Ransomware is a type of malware that blocks access to the infected computer unless a ransom is paid. Ransomware usually infects a computer by hiding in a file that the user downloads from the internet, known as a trojan. Once downloaded, it will encrypt all of your files and lock you out of your computer. A pop-up will appear informing you that you have a certain amount of time to pay a ransom in order to receive a code that will decrypt your files and unlock your computer. The pop-up contains instructions on how to pay the ransom, which is usually paid in bitcoin. However, after the time has expired, the code is erased permanently. This essentially keeps you locked out of your files forever.

Now, a new ransomware called “Cerber” uses text-to-speech to read aloud the demands of the hacker. Experts say that Cerber is very effective and there is no known way of decrypting the files without paying the ransom. Here is an example of what a Cerber pop-up looks like:

Cerber uses speech technology

There is still a lot unknown about Cerber, however, experts also say that you should not pay the fee in the event that this happens to you. Cybercriminals have no obligations to send you the code to unlock your computer after you’ve paid them. There are cases of the hackers sending the codes, but there are many more cases when they don’t.

In another development, security firm Palo Alto Networks confirmed this past weekend the first cases of ransomware successfully infecting a Mac computer. This means that devices running on OS X, or Apple computers, are vulnerable to ransomware.

While we are proud of the strides that speech technology has made in recent years, this is unfortunately another example of new technologies being used for malicious purposes. We’d prefer you use text-to-speech technology on your own accord, therefore, we advise everyone to exercise safe browsing practices when using the internet. Do not download files from unknown sources and be cautious of suspicious links. It is also a good practice to periodically back up your computer with an external hard drive.

What do you think?

Have you ever had any experience with ransomware? How do you ensure your computer is safe? Let us know in the comments!

Learn More about NeoSpeech’s Text-to-Speech

To learn more about the different areas in which Text-to-Speech technology can be used, visit our Text-to-Speech Areas of Application page. And to learn more about the products we offer, visit our Text-to-Speech Products page.

If you’re interested in adding Text-to-Speech software to your application or would like to learn more about TTS, please fill out our Sales Inquiry form and one of our friendly team members will be happy to help.

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