Rising Bitcoin Value Makes CryptoLocker Crooks Rich

Dennis Faas's picture

A new report suggests that the cybercriminals behind the now infamous CryptoLocker ransomware scam are making huge profits. The main factor driving that revenue: the rapidly rising value of bitcoins.

CryptoLocker is a form of Trojan horse known as ransomware. After being installed on a system -- usually following the opening of a malicious email -- it takes control of a user's system. Those behind the scam then demand the victim pay up if they want to regain control of their computer.

The usual ransom: between $300 and $600 in bitcoins, a relatively new type of Internet-based currency.

So, why are the CryptoLocker cybercrooks using bitcoins?

Simply put, the transaction can't be traced.

CryptoLocker Crooks Keep Their Word -- For Now

Shockingly, in most cases it seems victims are, in fact, regaining control of their computers after paying the ransom. Still, security experts warn that it's better to alert the authorities than encourage this kind of criminal behavior.

Of course, the CryptoLocker crooks are also holding to their threats. Just ask the anonymous man (recently interviewed by Forbes magazine) who refused to pay and never regained control of his stolen files.

"I didn't even think about the payment method," the man said. "I felt so angry that criminals would benefit from that." (Source: forbes.com)

CryptoLocker Profits in the Millions

In any case, for now it appears the cybercriminals behind the scam are 'cleaning up'. With the value of bitcoins skyrocketing in recent weeks -- to over $1,000 each -- cybercriminals are now getting more bang for their buck.

That's led FireEye security expert Uttang Dawda to suggest that, thanks to the successful infection of tens of thousands of computers, the CryptoLocker cybercriminals' profits should be in the millions. (Source: forbes.com)

It's not yet clear what has caused the upswing in bitcoin value, though some experts believe it could be related to recent U.S. Senate hearings exploring the new currency. The press surrounding those discussions may be increasing bitcoin's legitimacy.

Of course, the bitcoin is hardly stable. In fact, experts say bitcoin worth is very erratic, meaning the currency could plummet in value at any time. (Source: csoonline.com)

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