Ransomware: Understanding Bitcoin

It probably hasn’t escaped your notice that ransomware gangs are fond of Bitcoin, and you may also be aware that some victims who decide to pay up are finding the Bitcoin technology somewhat daunting, to the extent that PadCrypt may be intended to offer advice on paying with Bitcoin by way of a live chat facility (offline at the time of writing). At any rate, Bleeping Computer’s Lawrence Abrams comments:

“A feature like this could potentially increase the amount of payments as the victim can receive “support” and be guided on the confusing process of making a payment.

I’m not familiar enough with Bitcoin at the moment to help much as far as that’s concerned, but I have noticed a number of articles recently that relate to it:

  • Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency Technologies assumes that ‘…you have a basic understanding of computer science — how computers work, data structures and algorithms, and some programming experience. If you’re an undergraduate or graduate student of computer science, a software developer, an entrepreneur, or a technology hobbyist, this textbook is for you.’ However, it is written using a fairly conversational tone, so it’s certainly worth a look if you’re reasonably IT-literate.
  • This primer from Princeton is about 296 pages shorter and more consumer friendly. And here’s Bitcoin’s own FAQ.
  • Richard Chirgwin points out that Bitcoiners are just like everybody else: They use rubbish passwords, which may not reassure you.
  • Imperva has published an interesting paper on ‘The secret of Cryptowall’s success‘ based Bitcoin wallet analysis.

William Hugh Murray comments in a recent SANS newsletter:

Cyber currency is too slow ever to play a major role as a medium of exchange.  It is too volatile to serve as a store of value.  However, anonymity will serve to encourage extortion.

That section of the Newsbites newsletter has a number of interesting links to commentary on the Locky ransomware, by the way.

David Harley

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