There is a painful correlation with the increase in the value of a Bitcoin and the concurrent rise in number of ransomware* variations capable of infecting computers across the world during the first six months of this year.
Banks are actually driving up the price of a Bitcoin because they have been infected and just want to pay and get on with business. This worrying trend has resulted in financial institutions setting aside up to 100 extra Bitcoins available on hand to pay attackers who encrypt their data – which means that ever more money is getting to the writers of ransomware as a cost of doing business. One FBI estimate puts the cyber criminal’s take over a three and a half month ransomware campaign to $350M dollars! With that kind of money, the attackers can hire the best programming talent to create new, increasingly sophisticated ransomware.
Never before in the history of human kind have people across the world been subjected to extortion on as massive a scale as they are today.
*Ransomware is malicious software that infects computers by encrypting all files, leaving the user locked out of his/her own computer. In order to unlock, one will need a decryption key possessed by the cyber criminal. The only way to get the decryption key is by paying the ransom demanded by the hacker.
1. An excellent white paper on the evolution of ransomware: http://www.symantec.com/content/en/us/enterprise/media/security_response/whitepapers/the-evolution-of-ransomware.pdf
2. The business of ransomware: http://www.newsbtc.com/2016/08/11/banks-buy-bitcoin-ransomware-wreaks-havoc/