The Alaskan city of Valdez is finally recovering access to the last portion of its data servers after hackers took control four months ago. The hackers then ransomed access to the data servers back in exchange for Bitcoin. The virus – named Hermes – infected 27 servers and more than 170 computers, which left the city council totally locked out of them until the ransom was paid.
Back in August, the hackers demanded three BTC to unlock all the machines, which carried a value of around $26,000 at the time. However, thanks to the recent crypto collapse, the ransom is now only $13,000 – a perfect time to pay up in the eyes of some.
Accidentally Hitting the Government
After calling in cybersecurity experts, the local government found out that the hackers randomly targeted them. It turns out that the hackers thought they had accessed and hacked a small business – hence the relatively small ransom amount. Local police were determined not to lose 15 years’ worth of data, so they negotiated hard and the hackers eventually gave them the decryption keys to a percentage of the infected machines. In the deal, the Valdez local government then had to pay a reduced ransom to have the virus totally removed.
Bitcoin Ransom Becoming Popular
Nobody wants to be kidnapped, but there is now more hope than ever for victims in such cases. Criminals are now starting to request Bitcoin as a form of ransom and promise the safe return of the victim for a few Bitcoin. South Africa recently had its first case of a Bitcoin ransom when a local businessman was kidnapped and a ransom note was sent to his family asking for BTC in exchange for his safe return. However, the DEA has already stated that all Bitcoin transactions can be traced and it knows who is sending what to who. Thankfully, the businessman was returned safely and no further harm was caused.
Threats Over Missing Bitcoin Increasing
A teen from India threatened to blow up Miami airport after the FBI took their time to respond to his complaint about having his Bitcoin stolen by a scammer. It’s safe to say that this escapade didn’t end too well for the teen, as the FBI dropped the case in its entirety. Elsewhere in the world, a Swedish citizen mailed two pipe bombs to a British crypto exchange, as they refused to change his password. Thankfully, the recipient opened the package from the middle and not through the envelope slit, so the bombs didn’t detonate.
Ransom in the form of Bitcoin is not new. Back in 2015 a virus called Wannacry infected much of the NHS and demanded Bitcoin to restore access to medical records and computers used in treating patients. That incident too ended with minimal damage incurred, but there is an increasing trend for hackers to demand Bitcoin and it’s only going to get worse as times goes on.