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The cyber criminals prefer laundering their ransom money as soon as possible without holding on to their ill-gotten BTC.
Being decentralized and anonymous, bitcoin has managed to attract not only representatives of the underground web community, but also lots of ransomware criminals. Still, it appears that crims just use the cryptocurrencies to ease their transactions via money laundering and don’t want to hold on to bitcoin.
This cryptocurrency is losing its value making criminals convert it to cash. Etay Maor, senior fraud prevention strategist at IBM Security, says that crims just use it to hide their identity in making payments.
“I’ve seen this discussion in underground forums among Russian criminals,” Etay Maor told The Register. “They use Bitcoin for the money laundering part and take payment with it, but they’ll move it out almost immediately. Most of them won’t keep bitcoins – they don’t like the valuations Bitcoin has – so they just use it as a layer of obfuscation, and move it to a different form of money,” added Mr Maor during an interview at the RSA security conference in San Francisco.
However, the increasing number of malicious programs keeps raising concerns. The programs known as ransomware demanding payment from victims to decrypt data are believed to have brought about £2m to the gang behind it before it was broken up.
It’s necessary to say that Bitcoin is an important part in the ransomware market. Actually, when ransomware malware infects a PC, it encrypts all the documents it can find. But, crims hand over the decryption key only when the victim pays in BTC.
“I think it’s a very serious problem,” says Adi Shamir, co-inventor of the widely used RSA cryptosystem, when asked about ransomware on a discussion panel at the RSA security conference. “It’s going to stay with us and we need to think about new techniques to stop it.”
Shamir believes that ransomware is an area where the security community failed “in a miserable way,” because there are no good products to protect against it. He also adds that this is just the beginning, reports PCWorld.
Anyway, we cannot say that the ransomware is going to disappear soon. Unfortunately, too many people give their BTC just to decrypt their data. Plus, for cyber crims it’s even easier to steal money that way.
However, cryptographic research won’t be stopped. Still, it’s better not to open email attachments unless you’re sure of the source. It’s also recommended to back up data and keep it in the archives offline, as far as the security industry cannot protect all the users from ransomware.