Tasmania’s Bitcoin Porn Scam Belies Global Ransomware Threat

Rural Tasmania has become the unlikely target of a porn scam, defrauding residents by making them pay for normally free antivirus software using Bitcoin.

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Tasmania’s Bitcoin Porn Scam Belies Global Ransomware Threat

Rural Tasmania has become the unlikely target of a porn scam, defrauding residents by making them pay for normally free antivirus software using Bitcoin.

Non-crypto users pay for free software

Police on the island are currently investigating the origins of the operation, which comes in the form of a virus infecting user devices.

The news comes against a backdrop of high-profile warnings about the proliferation of ransomware worldwide, particularly via social media and phishing emails.

In the Tasmanian stunt, devices show a pornographic pop-up along with a message confirming “infection.” Users are told to call a helpline number, with an operator on the other end telling them to pay for antivirus software. Only Bitcoin is accepted, and users are directed to a “local newsagency” to send payments, news resource The Mercury reports.

While the antivirus product being sold is not named, accounts state that it is normally available for download free of charge.

Asked to pay in Bitcoin? - Seek help

Law enforcement reactions demonstrate an additional hurdle in public awareness of Bitcoin - various comments reveal only limited understanding of how the digital currency works.

“The transactions are mostly anonymous and there is no back up as there would be with a credit card payment or other regulated funds transfer,” Detective Sergeant Gen Hickman told The Mercury.

He added that:

“If you are asked to pay in Bitcoin or digital currency, you should be immediately cautious and seek help.”

Tip of huge iceberg

A lack of education on cybersecurity matters, especially those involving Bitcoin, has often been attributed to the negative press surrounding the cryptocurrency. Nonetheless, senior lawmakers in the US are now in part advocating the use of Bitcoin as a means to track and prevent criminal activity.

In an interview with Forbes earlier this month, federal prosecutor Kathryn Haun said that anti-fraud methods, in particular, were a target sector for improvement with Blockchain technology immutable ledgers.

At the same time, both a report and a survey published in November shows that 2016 has become a hotbed of activity for hackers using ransomware.

80 percent of business respondents to a survey conducted by SentinelOne claimed to have been targeted, and where financial gain was involved, Bitcoin was often the method of choice for exacting payment in return for giving back control of data.

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