The number of ransomware attacks reported is constantly rising and many actually blame Bitcoin because of the fact that hackers often use this payment system as they engage in criminal activities. The problem is that Bitcoin is not the only very popular cryptocurrency used in these attacks.
We do not condone any type of hacking or extortion attempt and we do believe information helps you to be protected. With this in mind, let us present the popular cryptocurrencies now used in ransomware attacks.
When Bitcoin first appeared it was really common on dark web websites as a payment method. This is one of the reasons why it grew so fast but it also attracted many individuals with undesirable character. These people saw the new cryptocurrency option as a great way to not be caught as they do something illegal.
Ransomware attacks often ask hacked users to send Bitcoin as that is very hard to trace. The largest attack was the WannaCry attack that happened in 2017. In just weeks malicious software spread to countless machines around the world. This included organizations and individuals. Even some organizations with large security budgets were affected, like LG Electronics or the National Health Services in UK. At the end of everything, the perpetrators receive Bitcoin ransoms amounting to around $240,000.
It is interesting how fast cybercriminals adopted the Bitcoin Cash currency that appeared after the August 2017 hard fork. Thanatos is a ransomware program that hit the news as it infected machines from around the world. The message that appeared on infected computers asked for $200 ransom paid in BCH.
Bitcoin is known all around the world but cybercriminals are moving towards using Monero because of the fact that this is a cryptocurrency designed around privacy. This makes it perfect for dark web marketplaces while dishonest hackers start to look at it as wonderful for a ransomware demand. This led to the development of a highly damaging malware known as Kirk. The Star Trek themed ransomware demands Monero payments with a value of $1,100 and is unique because you cannot decrypt affected files without the attacker’s key.
While Ethereum is mostly preferred in the ICO scene, the second largest of all cryptocurrencies is also popular among cybercriminals. There is a new malware program, HC7 Planetary Ransomware, which infects computers around the world. Attackers normally demand $700 but if a number of machines from a network are infected, the demand goes as high as $5,000. It does use Ethereum as payment option.
There are other cryptocurrencies that are popular among ransomware developers like Dash and Verge due to the different privacy features included. However, those mentioned are by far the most popular. Unfortunately, the blockchain technology makes it easy for people to get away with such attacks. Most people do not know much about what ransomware is and if the files present on their computers are important, they do make payments.
Further reading: What You Need To Know About Ransomware
Image source: The Hacker News