Computer Viruses Are Becoming a Business
7 years ago when the head of Kaspersky Lab, Eugene Kaspersky, was called crazy for saying that the cyber criminals can operate their scams as a business. Today it most people would agree that hackers are able to earn money by exploiting security weaknesses.
The scale of the potential earnings by hackers were showcased early September. On September 4th ESET published information that TorrentLocker ransomware brought $40 million in revenues. The TorrentLocker has been running for half a year (it first appeared in March 2014).
According to ESET over 82,000 bitcoins had been transferred by the victims of the ransomware that tried to access the data that had been encrypted by the TorrentLocker. Considering that the value of one bitcoin at the time of the report was about $480, the value of these bitcoins was close to $40 million.
Even though TorrentLocker was first encountered in March, the infection is still spreading and finds new victims. The first targets of the TorrentLocker were targeted using Australia Post themed fraud websites. People visiting these websites and who wanted to know the details about the shipped package were prompted to enter a CAPTCHA. After the CAPTCHA is entered, visitor is directed to download a file. The file was later found to be none other than TorrentLocker.
A newly published report from Fox-IT, shows that there are seven bitcoin addresses that have been accepting ransomware payments. The amount of bitcoins across all the bitcoin addresses is almost 900 BTC. It would suggest that these payments have been gathered since the middle of September and have already reached over $1 million worth of payments in bitcoins.
According to UK managing director at Check Point, Keith Bird, hackers use methods like TorrentLocker because most victims are unaware of the possible threats on the internet and even more people do not know how to react to situations like this. Because of the facts there are numerous victims that pay money to the hackers to retrieve their information. This money is an initiative for the creators of systems like TorrentLocker and fuels their illegal businesses.
He also highlighted that these issues reflect a need for a multi-layered security system for networks. The system would need to have threat emulation. The security system has to be able to stop malware before it reaches the network. Furthermore, it should also include a staff that is ready stop aggressive phishing attacks. Without such system it is unlikely to stop these hacking groups from continuing their activity and finding more unaware victims that do not know how to handle problems like this.
This example of how hackers are able to receive money for what they do should raise everybody’s awareness about the threats on the Internet. There is no doubt that there are going to appear more various ways hackers will try to obtain money. To better protect yourself and your online identity we highly recommend to use our VPN. We are constantly tracking the news about exploits and update our systems to make sure it does not become an easy target for hackers.