- The extortion process was quick, easy and very lucrative, a research team stated.
- The extortionists possibly make at least $ 130,000 after renting a botnet.
Crypto-based extortion has recently become one of the most predominant crime in the virtual space. It involves using spam-flinging botnet armies to “ransom” dirty pictures and compromising information in exchange for bitcoin. An international team comprised of researchers from the Austrian Technology Institute and security provider GoSecure recently attended the Advances in Financial Technology conference in Zurich. In the conference, they stated that the extortion process was quick, easy and very lucrative after they examined several email spams.
The researchers used the public hack info to find that a single instance of the popular Necurs botnet launched over 80 campaigns and in the 4.3 million emails surveyed by the team. In most cases, the criminals had no damaging information on the victims. The research team stated that the botnet was surprisingly lucrative. The extortionists were possibly making at least $130,000 after renting a botnet for $10,000 per month.
Masarah Paquet-Clouston, a security researcher at GoSecure, said that the spam campaign is very simple because of its employment of cryptocurrencies. On account of this, the researchers strongly believe that the crypto-backed email extortions will increase. Paquet-Clouston said:
“If you look at traditional [product] spam, it’s much more complicated … [crypto] extortion spam is much simpler”
The researchers provided examples where a victim receives an email from the hacker threatening to release compromising personal information if bitcoin isn’t provided on time. For example, one email claimed the hackers were performing surveillance via malware:
“Hello! As you may have noticed, I sent you an email from your account. This means that I have full access to your account. I’ve been watching you for a few months now. The fact is that you were infected with malware through an adult site that you visited.”
Researchers figured out how botnets operate after tracking the bitcoin addresses used and languages employed in emails. For example, certain nationalities were charged higher than others, with English speakers topping out around $745 per recipient compared to Spaniards on the lowest end at $249. The bitcoin addresses were used over 3 million times. The researchers believe that it was done to simplify payments. The team also said that awareness about bitcoin and methods to track payments have lead botnet campaigns. On the other hand, privacy coins like monero and zcash are not used that much in the extortions.
Information on these pages contains forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties. Markets and instruments profiled on this page are for informational purposes only and should not in any way come across as a recommendation to buy or sell in these assets. You should do your own thorough research before making any investment decisions. FXStreet does not in any way guarantee that this information is free from mistakes, errors, or material misstatements. It also does not guarantee that this information is of a timely nature. Investing in Open Markets involves a great deal of risk, including the loss of all or a portion of your investment, as well as emotional distress. All risks, losses and costs associated with investing, including total loss of principal, are your responsibility. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of FXStreet nor its advertisers. The author will not be held responsible for information that is found at the end of links posted on this page.
If not otherwise explicitly mentioned in the body of the article, at the time of writing, the author has no position in any stock mentioned in this article and no business relationship with any company mentioned. The author has not received compensation for writing this article, other than from FXStreet.
FXStreet and the author do not provide personalized recommendations. The author makes no representations as to the accuracy, completeness, or suitability of this information. FXStreet and the author will not be liable for any errors, omissions or any losses, injuries or damages arising from this information and its display or use. Errors and omissions excepted.
The author and FXStreet are not registered investment advisors and nothing in this article is intended to be investment advice.