How Bitcoin is used by digital criminals to demand ransoms

By Daniel Zo Bitcoin, Scams, Ransom

In the old days, whenever a ransom payment was needed, criminals used to prefer it being issued in briefcases full of unmarked bills. However, as the technologic era has taken over the world, things gradually began to change.

It seems like today, hostage takers prefer to receive their ransom in Bitcoin, and this makes sense considering the fact that it is an anonymous payment method which can hardly be tracked. Computer locking and asking for a ransom in bitcoin first started in late 2013, with a virus known as CryptoLocker, which encrypted all files on a computer, and then offer to decrypt them as soon as a Bitcoin payment was issued. While this particular app hasn’t been seen for some time, it doesn’t mean that it still isn’t out there.

We would like to discuss this issue as in the last couple of weeks, a couple of hackers have been attacking people throughout the US and blocking access to their computers unless a certain sum of money was sent through Bitcoin.

However, not only ordinary computers were affected. Instead, hackers went as far as attacking financial firms and even police departments, proving two things: that they have a lot of courage and that the digital currency is truly anonymous. With this in mind, the ransoms that they asked for were for a few dollars, ranging up to $20,000 in Bitcoin. Reports indicate that one set of attackers operating from Russia and Ukraine have managed to collect a sum of around $16.5 million by attacking unprotected computers throughout the US. Although we have some data on how they operate, they weren’t caught by the authorities yet, due to the fact that they used proxies and bitcoin mixers throughout the process.

Other sources point that a criminal circle known by the name of DD4BC went ahead and threatened to DDOS the public websites of a couple of firms unless Bitcoin payments were made. When attacked, corporate victims are usually asked to pay sums of around $10,000 in order to get rid of the attacks. While the hackers promise that they won’t be back once the payment has been made, most shouldn’t be trusted and corporate firms should go ahead and invest in better security solutions to keep their sites running at all times and hackers away.

While the technology has been praised as a faster and more efficient way of carrying out transactions, it’s also important to be careful not to get your computer infected, regardless of whether you are or aren’t a Bitcoin user. To stay away from such an issue, make sure not to access shady sites and to download content which you are suspicious off. Last, but most important, make sure that you have a paid antivirus subscription which will likely have enough power to combat computer viruses that block PC access.