The mounting influx of underground online marketplaces has evidently simplifies the purchasing and selling of illegal materials, including the cyber-extortion tools.
According to a report by La Stampa, people are now buying readymade Bitcoin ransomware tools via undetectable online platforms. The tools are mostly subscribed for as low as $100, and could be aptly channelized — even by a 12-year old — to lock system data from a remote location. Victims, on the other hand, are made to pay a certain ransom (mostly in Bitcoins) in order to unlock their infected IT networks.
The return-of-investment earned by creating these hacking tools is not limited to its selling. Apparently, these tools are sold on affiliate contracts, meaning a buyer has to pay its seller a certain share of earned ransom. As the Italian Daily confirmed, a buyer purchased an executable malware file for $100 with a promise to return an additional 15% of the total ransom.
“It is easy money,” the seller was found quoting.
The case clearly illustrates how buying Bitcoin ransomware has become as easy as buying potatoes. One just needs to got to the automated website, put the Bitcoin address, configure the malware with details of ransom and payment deadline, download and distribute it via mail, and so on.
“It is free, you pay a percentage of the proceeds to those who manage the infrastructure, the command and control center that communicates with the infected computer,” La Stampa stated.
Bitcoin Ransomware — A Trend with No End in Sight
Many individuals, government agencies, healthcare centers, and even prestigious companies are found to have fallen prey to Bitcoin ransomware attacks. Recently, the patient data of many US hospitals were locked by similar malware. And one hospital from Los Angeles actually ended up paying a ransom of $17,000 to stabilize its IT system.
A recent report suggested that most of these attacks were coming from China. But but by the look of recent reports, the tools that assist such hacking are available to everyone regardless of borders.