The Federal Bureau of Investigation reported that the the total losses generated by the bitcoin ransomware called Cryptowall have reached $18 million. The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center stated that the agency received 992 complaints related to Cryptowall between April 2014 and June 2015.
Bitcoin has typically been used by hackers as their means of demanding ransom from companies they’ve attacked with their malware. In Brisbane, a company has reportedly paid this bitcoin ransom but the hackers refused to back down with their demands.
Bitcoin Ransomware Attacks
Typically these attacks shut down websites or access critical company information until the victims agree to pay the ransom in bitcoin. In particular, Cryptowall encrypts the user’s computer with data and targets have ranged from schools to law enforcement offices.
Back in November last year, a sheriff’s office had no choice but to pay the bitcoin ransom to the perpetrators of the Cryptowall attack. As it turns out, the encryption came in the form of a Trojan horse virus and accessed a data cache containing sensitive documents, photographs and criminal reports.
In March, a school in New Jersey suffered the same attack on its databases and was forced to delay a statewide standardized test when the malware was discovered.
“The financial impact to victims goes beyond the ransom fee itself, which is typically between $200 and $10,000. Many victims incur additional costs associated with network mitigation, network countermeasures, loss of productivity, legal fees, IT services and/or the purchase of credit monitoring services for employees or customers,” read the FBI’s advisory.
“Criminals prefer bitcoin because it’s easy to use, fast, publicly available, decentralized and provides a sense of heightened security/anonymity,” the notice read. With that, bitcoin has once again been negatively associated with criminal activity, as the anonymity offered by the use of the digital currency makes it virtually impossible to track the attackers.