Ransomware Crooks Hold Spanish City Hostage for Bitcoin

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Jerez — formally Jerez de la Frontera — a city located in southern Spain, has been under siege by enterprising hackers for a few days now. 

The city’s site is currently unavailable, as much of its data is now under a ransomware’s lock and key. 

Ransomware is a type of hack which encrypts a victim’s hard drive and forces them to pay a fee — usually in bitcoins — for the safe return of their files. Thus, the term “ransom.” 

City officials have not publicly disclosed how much Bitcoin the hackers have demanded in return for relenting in their attack. 

As first noted by the Next Web, the Jerez ransomware attack coincides with a recent announcement by government officials warning about increases in ransomware and other financially motivated hacking incidents. 

Ransom Economics

“The FBI does not advocate paying a ransom, in part because it does not guarantee an organization will regain access to its data. In some cases, victims who paid a ransom were never provided with decryption keys. In addition, due to flaws in the encryption algorithms of certain malware variants, victims may not be able to recover some or all of their data even with a valid decryption key.”

In its bulletin, the FBI discourages victims from immediately paying a ransom. 

A recent example of this in action can be seen in Baltimore, where incoming mayor Jack Young chose not to pay any form of ransom, and some of the city’s essential services were unavailable for weeks. 

Ransomware attacks are a relatively trivial attack, with toolkits sold on the dark web for less than the cost of a used car. With appropriate access or vulnerabilities, a properly deployed ransomware kit can net its criminal attacker tens of thousands of dollars with little or no effort. 

It can backfire, as well, as in the case of Raymond Odigie Uadiale, who went to prison just for helping people spend their ill-begotten ransomware gains.