In context: The crypto winter is impacting more than just investors, miners and companies; it also causes cybercriminals to rethink their ransomware tactics, often pushing them toward other forms of computer crime, such as traditional malware attacks and phishing scams that net them dollars instead of digital currencies.
Cryptocurrency prices have crashed in recent months. The biggest of them all, Bitcoin, which hit a record close to $68,000 late last year, is now hovering around $20,000. The crash has been felt by digital asset trading companies, crypto miners and even entire countries.
The falling price of crypto is also noticed by ransomware gangs who demand it as payment from victims. As reported by CNETMark Lance, vice president of cyber defense and ransomware negotiator at GuidePoint Security, writes that the criminals must now ask for more crypto so that they receive the same amount when converted to dollars. As a result, the demands can often look even greater, even if the dollar amount requested is the same.
Just like legitimate companies dealing with cryptocurrencies, dark web crypto exchanges are also feeling the pressure. Israel-based intelligence agency Cybersixgill writes that about 30 of these exchanges have closed since April, when Bitcoin was about $47,000.
The situation has led some ransomware gangs to branch out into other more traditional forms of cybercrime, including remote banking Trojans, credential-stealing malware, and phishing attacks, all of which result in dollar-denominated money – instead of cryptocurrencies – for the perpetrators.
Lance does note that many ransomware attacks today don’t get that much coverage unless the target has a particularly high profile, such as AMD, Foxconn, or Nvidia. “Ransomware is still as widespread as it ever was,” he said, “and still makes a lot of money.”
In May, the FBI warned employees to be wary of corporate email compromise (BEC) attacks, which have stolen an estimated $43 billion in five years.
Thank you, CNET