Security Check by Del Peñano Aug 23, 2017 The Use of Bitcoin in Ransomware The Use of Bitcoin in Ransomware The rise in ransomware is prevalent, whether we are consumers, SMB to enterprise business, we have the potential to be a victim of this very common malware and today, we will provide insights on the five key points of Bitcoin, since that is how most, if not all, ransom is paid. But first, let’s define ransomware. Ransomware’s main purpose is to extort money payable in Bitcoin in most cases. The perpetrators inject malware which can either encrypt or deny access to one’s computer or server, unless a ransom is paid, in exchange for a decryption key, thus allowing the user to access files or system. It’s all important to note, there’s no guarantee that victim of ransomware will even get the decryption key after paying ransom or who’s to say, cyber thieves may come back a few months later demanding ransom again. It is important to state that some organizations choose not to pay the ransom and the reason, “some” are able to that is because they have other means in place, like additional servers where they “backup” to the cloud their important data, therefore, they are not forced to pay. As stated earlier, victims of ransomware are extorted for money and this is done by digital currency, like Bitcoin and these are the top 5 you should know about Bitcoin: In simple terms, Bitcoin is basically digital/electronic currency also known as “cryptocurrency,” allowing people (peer to peer) to send or receive money across the internet and parties are anonymous(somewhat). Imagine an environment where there truly is no “identity” associated with these transactions? Top Five things to know about Bitcoin: Anonymous – As mentioned earlier, all parties can transact without identity being known. One can receive, send without ever knowing one’s identities, since Bitcoin address are not tied to the identity of users. It’s important to note, that one is not completely anonymous when using Bitcoin since yes, Bitcoin addresses can still be link to actual identities “if” one uses real names/identities are used with Bitcoin addresses in any form or another such as when one deposits or withdraws money to or from an exchange/digital wallet, thus broadcasting some one’s address where donation came from and now identity is revealed. This can even happen with online stores that accept Bitcoin. These top companies accept Bitcoin One way to maintain, anonymity is to use TOR which is a browser for anonymous communication or hide one’s IP address. Trading - The ability to buy either offline or online. Be sure to do your research on these exchanges that buy & sell Bitcoin. Most charge an exchange fee and some transactions have been known to fail, so there may be some risk. Blockchain - is a peer-to-peer distributed ledger technology for a new generation of transactional applications that establishes trust, accountability and transparency while streamlining business processes. Think of it as an operating system for interactions.” -Jim Zemlin, Executive Director, Linux Foundation. In layman’s term, think of it as a public spreadsheet/ledger that anybody can add a row of information to, but cannot update or delete anything. (These are distributed across multiple networks) There is off course, coding, encryption on the back end that is happening with this technology. Criminal Activity - As you probably can tell by now, Bitcoin can be popular with criminals, from drug trafficking to money laundering and everything in between. There are several so called “dark websites” which hopefully on this blog, there’s no need to elaborate and some have been shut down by authorities. These dark web sites are known to accept Bitcoin. Merchant Acceptance of Bitcoin - Since 2015, more merchants have accepted as form of payment by Bitcoins, charging fees from 0%-2%, compared to credit card processors can charge 2%-3%. Here is a list of some of the merchants that accept Bitcoins: PayPal, WordPress.com, Overstock.com, Microsoft, Virgin Galactic, Expedia, Zynga (as mentioned above). In conclusion, here are some best practice to implement to help mitigate cyberthreats: Be sure to update your security-software patches on regular basis Be sure to have at least 3 backups, local, external and remote (cloud) Be sure not to open unknown email attachments or clicking links in spam emails. Be sure to have in place, a cloud-enabled network protection service which can protect business from threats such as malware, ransomware, network intrusions, data leaks, and DDos attacks. Given the rise in ransomware and other malware attacks, it’s the utmost importance to follow the fundamentals of protecting your data & network as listed above. Call Jungle Disk today to learn about our Data Security Suite at 1-888-601-0401 or take network test here.