New York University and Google researchers who monitored the payment networks of cybercriminals announced that ransomware cases have increased significantly since 2016 and gradually becoming a multi-million business.
They claimed that the crime is very profitable and that it is becoming a “vicious cycle” of ever-growing attacks.
According to Google anti-abuse research lead, Elie Bursztein, the crime of ransomware is here to stay.
“It’s a vicious cycle, the more money they make, the more aggressively they spread the malware.”
Based on the study results, the criminal cyber industry, in general, has a promising future as shown by the amount of money raised by criminals in their attacks.
Although the two latest major ransomware attacks did not seem to generate a large amount of money, cybercriminals are reportedly developing new forms of ransomware to bolster their earnings.
According to the researchers, the latest version, Cerber, has consistently generated a ransom payment of $200,000 per month in 2016.
How it works
Cybercriminals use the malicious software called ransomware to infect the computers of their victims and encrypt the files on the computers. The victims were then asked to pay a ransom so that they can regain access to their files. The payments were usually made using anonymous digital currencies like Bitcoin.
The criminals employ several methods in their attacks. One method is the use of ransomware-as-a-service, in which they rent out ransomware programs and support system needed to receive payment to other criminals. They then charge a certain percentage of the profits on the use of the programs as payment.
The other strategies include the use of time limits after which they delete the encrypted files, the use of the option in which victims are allowed to decrypt their files for free if they help in infecting other computers, and the use of a method in which the demanded ransoms increase the longer time the victims take to pay.
Companies wary of getting cyber attacked for Bitcoin
As previously reported, UK companies are wary of ransomware attacks and stocked up on some Bitcoin in order to prepare for possible ransomware threats. Whereas in the US, retailers are worried about accepting Bitcoin as 50 percent of them think they are vulnerable to hackers.