Malware nightmare

How companies are fighting Bitcoin Ransomware

George Basiladze
Bitcoin image via Shutterstock

Ransomware is becoming a serious problem for the Bitcoin community. Yet while security experts struggle to find a catch-all solution to this flaw, it appears there is no end in sight to Bitcoin’s malware problems, both for enterprises and consumers.

The last year has seen many individuals and companies impacted by ransomware, a form of malware which forces the victim to pay a ransom to regain access to their files. This type of malicious software infects a users computer in a similar fashion to more established forms of computer virus, often when a user accesses a compromised email attachment or clicks an unknown link.

Ransomware will often require users to pay a fee in Bitcoin, in order to gain access to the decryption key required to regain control of their files. The targeted nature of ransomware can make them particularly dangerous; they often encrypt any files on an infected computer which match a certain file extension, often documents or executables, which can cause tremendous problems for those affected. When companies are affected, they can often call upon the skills of highly skilled professionals to try to regain control of their systems. Individuals are often more likely to give in and pay the ransom, which can be expensive and saddening!

Many intelligent security experts find ransomware challenging; the individual nature of the infections, with unique decryption keys, make developing a catch-all solution difficult. A security toolkit has been developed under the pseudonym Jadacyrus. The toolkit is predominantly aimed at those with more technical knowledge; it is provided in source code form via BitBucket. This can provide a means to attempt to break the ransomware encryption and represents the growing battle between those developing the malicious ransomware and those striving to provide solutions.

$18 million in ransomware losses

Earlier this year, the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Centre stated that it had received reports of more than $18m in losses relating to Bitcoin ransomware. It is worth noting that some ransomware is being distributed as part of a Trojan known as FAREIT, which can also steal passwords and wallet private key information. Many companies understand the impact such infections can have on individual users and have done a great deal to ensure that their users are protected.

SEE ALSO: Bitcoin named by banks as major threat, MasterCard agrees

Using a hosted Bitcoin wallet, users can ensure that their wallet data is not accessible via their computer, removing the risk of having their Bitcoin wallet encrypted by ransomware or other malware. The risks presented by ransomware can be alleviated by efficient backing-up of important files, but this doesn’t prevent the loss productivity and other difficulties presented by an infection. Computer Security companies have also been trying to develop solutions to help individuals save their files from ransomware, but such solutions can be difficult for non-technical users to understand.

The battle between developers of malicious software and security experts who aim to find flaws in malware is unlikely to stop any time soon. Individuals can only try to keep clear of malicious software, by using well-secured sites and software, whilst the experts work hard to develop new ways to save infected files and computers.

George Basiladze
George is a finance guy with an in-depth knowledge of financial systems. Together with Dmitry they designed the concept of Cryptopay in May 2013 and started developing the system.

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