A total of nearly 4 bitcoins which is worth just around $9621 at today’s price was the reward that those behind the recent cyberattack affecting businesses around Europe have been successful ion extorting out of their victims.
While Ukraine and Russia have been particularly affected, there were reports that emerged of of a ransomware virus affecting businesses and governments throughout Eastern Europe and other parts of the world on Tuesday.
Business in Western Europe, including Maersk, Merck and WPP has also been affected by the malware, which has been identified as a modified version of the “Petya” virus.
The virus demands a ransom of $300 paid in Bitcoin after it remotely locks users out of their computer.
There have been 42 confirmed transactions to the bitcoin wallet listed in the malware attack according to the bitcoin blockchain.
The address is 1Mz7153HMuxXTuR2R1t78mGSdzaAtNbBWX.
A total of 3.751 bitcoins from victims have so far been received by the wallet. The current price of a bitcoin is $2564.46 according to the listing of Coindesk. But if the 42 transactions each represent one victim paying the $300 ransom, technically, the hackers should have so far made $12,600.
Those who are affected by the malware were advised not to pay the ransom by Steve Malone, director of security product management at Mimecast.
“This new outbreak once again highlights the disruptive power of ransomware like never before. Simply by encrypting and blocking access to files, critical national services and valuable business data can be damaged,” he told various media outlets after news of the virus attack emerged globally.
“Mimecast advises organizations never to succumb to the pressure to pay the ransom to regain access to their applications and data. There is no guarantee this will unlock files and further motivates and finances attackers to expand their ransomware campaigns.”
However, Greg Sim, CEO at Glasswall Solutions points out that there are some organisations which cannot allow for their systems to be unavailable for any amount of time. Utilities, airports, banks and government systems are among those who have been affected.
“Hackers are targeting those that cannot afford to have downtime,” Sim said.
“An airport simply cannot have its systems down for a prolonged period of time or chaos ensues. If they do not give in and pay the ransom, then they risk their public image being dragged through the mud.”
Despite infecting around 200,000 computers in May, a similar ransomware attack had managed to make only $50,000. When the owners of the bitcoins actually want to spend it or convert it into another currency, law enforcement agencies will be closely watching the bitcoin address because such owners of wallets may be able to be tracked down at that stage.
(Adapted from CNBC)