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Hackers who infected 200,000 machines have only made $50,000 worth of bitcoin, Bitcoin for ransomware definitely complicates the disaster recovery process!

As is indicated in the article below, titled: Hackers who infected 200,000 machines have only made $50,000 worth of bitcoin, Bitcoin for ransomware definitely complicates the disaster recovery process!  It takes time to get educated on Bitcoin, to learn how and where to obtain Bitcoin.  It can sometimes take more than 2 days to just get verified to be able to purchase a few hundred dollars in Bitcoin, which quite often is not enough to meet the ransom required to decrypt the files.  We, at Innovativ IT have helped multiple local companies in Houston purchase Bitcoins through third parties, in order to meet the ransom and get their data back.  Contact Innovativ IT to purchase large quantities of Bitcoin quickly.  We have over 2 years of Bitcoin experience for ransomware recovery.

Hackers who locked files on 200,000 computers globally and asked for a bitcoin ransom payment to unlock them, have only made around $50,000, an industry source told CNBC, despite the large scale of the attack.

On Friday, a virus known as WannaCry infected machines across 150 countries. It’s known as ransomware which is a malicious piece of software that encrypts a user’s files then demands them pay money to unlock them. In this case, the hackers asked for $300 worth of bitcoin.

James Smith, CEO of Elliptic, a London-based start-up that helps law enforcement agencies track criminals using the cryptocurrency, said his company had uncovered that since Friday, around $50,000 worth of bitcoin payments have been made to the hackers by 7 a.m. ET on Monday. This was up from $45,000 at 4 a.m. ET.

“We have seen the number of payments start to go up today,” Smith told CNBC Monday.

After 72 hours from when the attack started on Friday, the hackers said the fine would double to $600, and after seven days, the files would be permanently locked.

“We think over the course of today as we approach the first deadline where fines double we will see a bigger increase (in bitcoin payments),” Smith added.

The amount paid so far is still a small amount despite the global nature and scale of the attack. Security experts and government agencies have been urging people not to pay the ransom.

Why payments have been slow

One of the major reasons for the slow payments is perhaps because many people wouldn’t know how to obtain and pay in bitcoin.

“If a business is told it needs to pay this amount of bitcoin, most companies will be asking what bitcoin is … it’s not straightforward,” Smith explained.

Obtaining large amounts of the cryptocurrency might take some time, and then setting up an account via a bitcoin wallet and exchange would also require a long onboarding process.

At the same time, researchers have seen no evidence that paying the cybercriminals necessarily unlocks your files.

“The decryption process itself is problematic, to say the least,” cybersecurity firm Check Point said in a blog post on Sunday.

“Unlike its competitors in the ransomware market, WannaCry doesn’t seem to have a way of associating a payment to the person making it. Most ransomware … generate a unique ID and bitcoin wallet for each victim and thus know who to send the decryption keys to. WannaCry, on the other hand, only asks you to make a payment, and then … wait.”

Tracing bitcoin

Hackers who deploy ransomware often ask for payments in bitcoin as it is often believed to be completely anonymous. But law enforcement agencies, working with companies like Elliptic, have figured out ways to trace this.

It traces so-called bitcoin addresses back to people. These addresses are required to make payments to other people or organizations. At the moment, Elliptic is working on trying to trace the payments, but Smith said this would become clearer when the hackers try to withdraw their bitcoin in fiat currency.

“The attackers haven’t moved it. In previous cases we have been able to work with law enforcement to see where the funds move because ultimately the attacker wants to turn it back into a currency they want to spend,” Smith explained.

Ransomware cyber-attack threat escalating – Europol

Friday’s cyber-attack has affected more than 200,000 victims in 150 countries, Europol chief Rob Wainwright says.

He told the BBC the act was “unprecedented in its scale” and warned more people could find themselves affected on Monday morning.

The virus took control of users’ files, demanding payments; Russia and the UK were among the worst-hit countries.

Experts say another attack could be imminent and have warned people to ensure their security is up to date.

Mr Wainwright said that the ransomware – software that blocks access to data until a ransom is paid – was combined with a worm application – a program that replicates itself in order to spread to other computers.

This, he said, was allowing the “infection of one computer to quickly spread across the networks”.

He added: “That’s why we’re seeing these numbers increasing all the time.”

‘Patch before Monday’

Although a temporary fix earlier slowed the infection rate, the attackers had now released a new version of the ransomware, he said.

Companies need to make sure they have updated their systems and “patched where they should” before staff arrived for work on Monday morning, the EU law enforcement agency head said.

In England, 48 National Health Service (NHS) trusts reported problems at hospitals, GP surgeries or pharmacies, and 13 NHS organisations in Scotland were also affected.

Media captionFirms must patch their systems before Monday morning, Europol chief warns

What occurred was an “indiscriminate attack across the world on multiple industries and services”, Mr Wainwright said, including Germany’s rail network Deutsche Bahn, Spanish telecommunications operator Telefonica, US logistics giant FedEx and Russia’s interior ministry.

However, he said that so far “remarkably” few payments had been made by victims of the attack.

BBC analysis of three accounts linked with the global attack suggests the hackers have been paid the equivalent of £22,080.

The Europol chief said his agency was working with the US Federal Bureau of Investigation to find those responsible, and that more than one person was likely to be involved.

The virus exploits a vulnerability in Microsoft Windows software, first identified by the US National Security Agency, experts have said.

After taking computers over, it displayed messages demanding a payment of $300 (£230) in virtual currency Bitcoin to unlock files and return them to the user.

Microsoft released security updates last month to address the vulnerability, with another patch released on Friday.

The UK security researcher known as “MalwareTech”, who helped to limit the ransomware attack, predicted “another one coming… quite likely on Monday”.

MalwareTech, who wants to remain anonymous, was hailed as an “accidental hero” after registering a domain name to track the spread of the virus, which actually ended up halting it.

The 22-year-old told the BBC it was very important for people to patch their systems as soon as possible.

WannaCry Kill-Switch(ed)? It’s Not Over! WannaCry 2.0 Ransomware Arrives

wannacry-2-ransomware-attack

If you are following the news, by now you might be aware that a security researcher has activated a “Kill Switch” which apparently stopped the WannaCry ransomware from spreading further.

But it’s not true, neither the threat is over yet.

However, the kill switch has just slowed down the infection rate.

Updated: Multiple security researchers have claimed that there are more samples of WannaCry out there, with different ‘kill-switch’ domains and without any kill-switch function, continuing to infect unpatched computers worldwide (find more details below).

So far, over 237,000 computers across 99 countries around the world have been infected, and the infection is still rising even hours after the kill switch was triggered by the 22-years-old British security researcher behind the twitter handle ‘MalwareTech.’

For those unaware, WannaCry is an insanely fast-spreading ransomware malware that leverages a Windows SMB exploit to remotely target a computer running on unpatched or unsupported versions of Windows.

Once infected, WannaCry also scans for other vulnerable computers connected to the same network, as well scans random hosts on the wider Internet, to spread quickly.

The SMB exploit, currently being used by WannaCry, has been identified as EternalBlue, a collection of hacking tools allegedly created by the NSA and then subsequently dumped by a hacking group calling itself “The Shadow Brokers” over a month ago.

“If NSA had privately disclosed the flaw used to attack hospitals when they *found* it, not when they lost it, this may not have happened,” NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden says.

Kill-Switch for WannaCry? No, It’s not over yet!

wannacry-ransomware-kill-switch

In our previous two articles, we have put together more information about this massive ransomware campaign, explaining how MalwareTech accidentally halted the global spread of WannaCry by registering a domain name hidden in the malware.

hxxp://www[.]iuqerfsodp9ifjaposdfjhgosurijfaewrwergwea[.]com

The above-mentioned domain is responsible for keeping WannaCry propagating and spreading like a worm, as I previously explained that if the connection to this domain fails, the SMB worm proceeds to infect the system.

Fortunately, MalwareTech registered this domain in question and created a sinkhole – tactic researchers use to redirect traffic from the infected machines to a self-controlled system. (read his latest blog post for more details)

Updated: Matthieu Suiche, a security researcher, has confirmed that he has found a new WannaCry variant with a different domain for kill-switch function, which he registered to redirect it to a sinkhole in an effort to slows down the infections.

hxxp://ifferfsodp9ifjaposdfjhgosurijfaewrwergwea[.]com/

The newly discovered WannaCry variant works exactly like the previous variant that wreaked havoc across the world Friday night.

But, if you are thinking that activating the kill switch has completely stopped the infection, then you are mistaken.

Since the kill-switch feature was in the SMB worm, not in the ransomware module itself., “WannaCrypt ransomware was spread normally long before this and will be long after, what we stopped was the SMB worm variant,” MalwareTech told The Hacker News.

You should know that the kill-switch would not prevent your unpatched PC from getting infected, in the following scenarios:

  • If you receive WannaCry via an email, a malicious torrent, or other vectors (instead of SMB protocol).
  • If by chance your ISP or antivirus or firewall blocks access to the sinkhole domain.
  • If the targeted system requires a proxy to access the Internet, which is a common practice in the majority of corporate networks.
  • If someone makes the sinkhole domain inaccessible for all, such as by using a large-scale DDoS attack.

MalwareTech also confirmed THN that some “Mirai botnet skids tried to DDoS the [sinkhole] server for lulz,” in order to make it unavailable for WannaCry SMB exploit, which triggers infection if the connection fails. But “it failed hardcore,” at least for now.

WannaCry 2.0, Ransomware With *NO* Kill-Switch Is On Hunt!

wannacry-2-ransomware-attack

Initially, this part of story was based on research of a security researcher, who earlier claimed to have the samples of new WannaCry ransomware that comes with no kill-switch function. But for some reason, he backed off. So, we have removed his references from this story for now.

However, shortly after that, we were confirmed by Costin Raiu, the director of global research and analysis team at Kaspersky Labs, that his team had seen more WannaCry samples on Friday that did not have the kill switch.

“I can confirm we’ve had versions without the kill switch domain connect since yesterday,” told The Hacker News.

Updated: WannaCry 2.0 is Someone Else’s Work


Raiu from Kaspersky shared some samples, his team discovered, with Suiche, who analysed them and just confirmed that there is a WannaCrypt variant without kill switch, and equipped with SMB exploit that would help it to spread rapidly without disruption.

What’s even worse is that the new WannaCry variant without a kill-switch believed to be created by someone else, and not the hackers behind the initial WannaCry ransomware.

“The patched version matt described does attempt to spread. It’s a full set which was modified by someone with a hex editor to disable the kill switch,” Raiu told me.

Updated: However, Suiche also confirmed that the modified variant with no kill switch is corrupted, but this doesn’t mean that other hackers and criminals would not come up with a working one.

“Given the high profile of the original attack, it’s going to be no surprise at all to see copycat attacks from others, and perhaps other attempts to infect even more computers from the original WannaCry gang. The message is simple: Patch your computers, harden your defences, run a decent anti-virus, and – for goodness sake – ensure that you have secure backups.” Cyber security expert Graham Cluley told The Hacker News.

Expect a new wave of ransomware attack, by initial attackers and new ones, which would be difficult to stop, until and unless all vulnerable systems get patched.

“The next attacks are inevitable, you can simply patch the existing samples with a hex editor and it’ll continue to spread,” Matthew Hickey, a security expert and co-founder of Hacker House told me.

“We will see a number of variants of this attack over the coming weeks and months so it’s important to patch hosts. The worm can be modified to spread other payloads not just WCry and we may see other malware campaigns piggybacking off this samples success.”

Even after WannaCry attacks made headlines all over the Internet and Media, there are still hundreds of thousands of unpatched systems out there that are open to the Internet and vulnerable to hacking.

“The worm functionality attempts to infect unpatched Windows machines in the local network. At the same time, it also executes massive scanning on Internet IP addresses to find and infect other vulnerable computers. This activity results in large SMB traffic from the infected host,” Microsoft says.

Believe me, the new strain of WannaCry 2.0 malware would not take enough time to take over another hundred of thousand vulnerable systems.

Video Demo of WannaCry Ransomware Infection

Hickey has also provided us two video demonstrations, showing packet traces that confirm the use of Windows SMB vulnerability (MS17-010).

And Second one…

Since WannaCry is a single executable file, it can also be spread through other regular exploit vectors, such as spear phishing, drive-by-download attack, and malicious torrent files download, warned Hickey.

Get Prepared: Upgrade, Patch OS & Disable SMBv1

MalwareTech also warned of the future threat, saying “It’s very important [for] everyone [to] understand that all they [the attackers] need to do is change some code and start again. Patch your systems now!”

“Informed NCSC, FBI, etc. I’ve done as much as I can do currently, it’s up to everyone to patch,” he added.

As we notified today, Microsoft took an unusual step to protect its customers with an unsupported version of Windows — including Windows XP, Vista, Windows 8, Server 2003 and 2008 — by releasing security patches that fix SMB flaw currently being exploited by the WannaCry ransomware.

Even after this, I believe, many individuals remain unaware of the new patches and many organizations, as well as embedded machines like ATM and digital billboard displays, running on older or unpatched versions of Windows, who are considering to upgrade their operating system, would take time as well as it’s going to cost them money for getting new licenses.

Quick Tip to stop (for all Windows users, even if you have installed the updates, Just disable SMB if not in use)

So, users and organizations are strongly advised to install available Windows patches as soon as possible, and also consider disabling SMBv1 (follow these steps), to prevent similar future cyber attacks.

For god sake: Apply Patches. Microsoft has been very generous to you.

Almost all antivirus vendors have already been added signatures to protect against this latest threat. Make sure you are using a good antivirus, and keep it always up-to-date.

Moreover, you can also follow some basic security practices I have listed to protect yourself from such malware threats.

WannaCry has Hit Over 200,000 Systems in 150 Countries, Warned Europol

wannacry-infections

Update: Speaking to Britain’s ITV, Europol chief Rob Wainwright said the whole world is facing an “escalating threat,” warning people that the numbers are going up and that they should ensure the security of their systems is up to date.

“We are running around 200 global operations against cyber crime each year, but we’ve never seen anything like this,” Wainwright said, as quoted by BBC.

“The latest count is over 200,000 victims in at least 150 countries. Many of those victims will be businesses, including large corporations. The global reach is unprecedented.”

Above map is showing the WannaCry ransomware infection in just 24 hours.

This story is still updating, stay tuned to our Twitter page for more up-to-date information.

New Sinister Ransomware On The Loose

This new ransomware known as Popcorn Time will decrypt your files if you forward the link to the ransomware to your contacts and two or more of them pay the ransom of two bitcoins, which cost more than $700 each.

To prevent being a victim of ransomware, it is imperative that you have the essential layers in place to protect your computers and data. The essentials are a working backup solution of all of your critical data from all PCs (laptops, desktops and servers), top of the line Anti-virus software running on all PCs, a good and properly configured firewall, good SPAM and Email security software, and general awareness of users (don’t click on links that look suspicious).

For more information, read:

AUTHOR: LILY HAY NEWMAN. LILY HAY NEWMAN
www.wired.com

DEVIOUS RANSOMWARE FREES YOU IF YOU INFECT TWO OTHER PEOPLE

A PARTICULARLY NASTY malware that holds your data hostage until you pay up—just got more pernicious with a version that lets you sell out your friends instead of handing over your cash.

The diabolical software Popcorn Time, which is not at all affiliated with the Popcorn Time piracy app, shakes victims down like any other ransomware. If you can’t afford the one bitcoin payout or you’re feeling especially spiteful, you can share a link to download Popcorn Time in an attempt to infect others. If two of your victims pay up, the attackers give you the key to decrypt your data. It’s a bit like the movie It Follows, but for malware instead of killing.

MalwareHunter, a hacker with the MalwareHunterTeam research group, recently discovered Popcorn Time. It resembles any other malware in terms of infecting a computer, encrypting its drive, and locking you out. The social aspect is what makes it novel. It’s like sharing a referral code for cheap takeout or a free Uber ride. “The model for getting it off your system is sort of a pyramid scheme, multi-level marketing style approach,” says Kevin Butler, a cybersecurity and malware propagation researcher at the University of Florida. “It could certainly make for some interesting discussions amongst one’s group of friends if you’re trying to figure out who infected you with this malware.”

Hackers regularly get creative with ransomware, offering things like support desks where victims can negotiate their ransom. Popcorn Time goes further by tapping into eat-or-be-eaten instincts. It’s fascinating in its psychological gamesmanship, and indicative of experimentation in an already disruptive field. “The bad guys are making a lot of money and they’re going to make a lot more money. A certain percentage of those funds are going to go into research and development for them to try new things,” says Jeremiah Grossman, chief of security strategy at cybersecurity defense firm SentinelOne. “The bad guys are innovating.”

There’s some good news, though. First, the Popcorn Time code doesn’t appear to be finished. “It is still not perfect, but it’s getting better,” MalwareHunter says. “Infect more to get free key is already unique thing. This system is something you not see every day.”

It also remains to be seen how wide Popcorn Time spreads. “No one really knows if the mechanism is going to have any meaningful impact,” Grossman says. “You infect someone and you try to get them to infect other people. That’s a human-to-human process. Does it really scale versus all other ways, like mass-blast email? Does this process really work economically?”

Still, ransomware tends to cluster in families and strains that share similar attributes. Even if Popcorn Time isn’t a viral hit, hackers could study its successes and failures to make their own variations more effective. Your best bet? Avoid getting hit in the first place. Regardless of whether Popcorn Time spreads like a virus, there’s no reason to be patient zero.