One bitcoin = $590.

11DIf you’re sucked into a ransomware scam, you’ll likely be charged at least one bitcoin for the cyber key to unlock your computer’s files—that are being held hostage by hackers.

A report from Check Point Software Technologies and IntSights has discovered a gigantic ransomware-as-a-service (RaaS) ring, raking in $2.5 million yearly. Eight new scam campaigns are launched every day, with dozens of campaigns already in action, tricking people into allowing the ransomware software (namely Cerber) to take control of their computer.

Just in July, it is believed that victims were cleaned out of $200,000. Ransomware specialists have become quite sophisticated, having developed what is called bitcoin mixing: This prevents ransomware profits from being traced. Their technique bypasses even the blockchain, which is a database that records every Bitcoin transaction.

The crooks so not pool all of their profits into one “wallet,” but rather, they mix things up, splintering the profits into thousands of different wallets, creating a jumble that makes it impossible to track individual transactions or their origins.

Cerber is being sent out with automated tools that attack the unsuspecting in large masses; no longer is this ransomware software the weapon of only the highly skilled master hacker. In fact, the software can even be rented for malicious use, and a high level of tech savvy isn’t even required.

All a thief need do is get on the Dark Web and pay a hacker to commit the crime. Of course, the hacker will have to get a nice chunk of the pie. Though several other countries are getting hit harder with Cerber, the U.S. is in the fourth spot for the most targeted country.

Not surprisingly, the phishing e-mail is the scam of choice for ransomware specialists, with malicious attachments that recipients are tricked into opening—which then download the infection. The other way that Cerber takes control of computers is via the exploit kit-based campaign.

Robert Siciliano CEO of IDTheftSecurity.com, personal security and identity theft expert and speaker is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen. See him knock’em dead in this identity theft prevention video.

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