Tag Archives: Bitcoin

Lifeline for Cryptolocker Victims

Security experts have managed to offer a lifeline to those who have been affected by the Cryptolocker malware as they can now unencrypt your data for free.

An online portal called Decrypt Cryptolocker has been created by security firms Fox-IT and FireEye where the victims can get the encryption keys by submitting one of the encrypted files.

Greg Day, chief technology officer at FireEye stated, “All they have to do is submit a file that’s been encrypted from that we can figure out which encryption key was used.”

Greg Day also recommended that those who wish to utilise the portal to receive the keys should submit a file that doesn’t contain any confidential data.

Once the Cryptolocker malware was on a Windows machine/server, it would encrypt files and demand a payment to be made within 72 hours to receive the keys to unencrypt the data. If no payment was received within the window, the keys were destroyed, rendering the encrypted data useless.  It is believed that the requested payments were in the region of $400, €400 or the equivalent in the virtual Bitcoin currency.

Security firms Fox-IT and FireEye were able to create the portal after security researched had managed to obtain a copy of Cryptolocker’s database of victims after police forces and security firms gained control of part of their network and grab data as it was being sent.

The FBI have also charged a Russian man, Evgeniy Bogachev, aka “lucky12345” and “slavik” who is accused of being the leader if the gang behind Gameover Zeus and Cryptolocker.

From analysis, it is thought that as little as 1.3% of all people who were affected by the Cryptolocker malware paid the ransom fee to get their data back. Despite such a low number of people paying, it thought that the gang managed to earn around $3 million.

It is thought that the percentage of those who paid was so low because they either managed to recover their data from backups or just accepted that they have lost the affected data and refused to pay.

Bitcoin exchange halts withdrawals after cyber-attack

BitStamp, one of the world’s largest and most commonly used Bitcoin exchanges has temporarily halted withdrawals after its exchange system came under attack.

The exchange firm, based in Slovenia, said criminals had used a vulnerability in the underlying Bitcoin software to perform the attacks. The Bitcoin Foundation, who maintain the code on which the software is based, have been trying to find a work around as well as fixes for the issue. They added that as this was a DDoS (distributed denial of service)attack no theft of Bitcoins had taken place, but that funds were “tied up” in the affected exchanges for now.

Bitstamp are now the second big Bitcoin exchange to come under DDoS attack in under a week, with Tokyo’s MtGox being the first last Friday.

A third exchange, BTC-e has also warned that transactions would be delayed due to another DDoS attack.

The cause of the problem stems from a weakness in the Bitcoin code known as transaction malleability. This malleability allows somebody to alter the code of Bitcoin just before a particular transaction is logged. This in turn allows a withdrawal to be made multiple times without the “blockchain” (the database Bitcoin uses to record every transaction carried out) noticing, opening the door to theft of Bitcoins.

The actual DDoS attack, according to Gavin Andersen of the Bitcoin foundation, comes when an exchange firm’s systems can’t cope with vast amounts of these fraudulent transactions. Mr Andersen pointed towards the design of MtGox and Bitstamp’s systems not being up to scratch, adding that the transaction malleability issue had been known about since 2011.

Unfortunately, despite Bitcoin trying to distance themselves from the fallout of this issue, this is more unwanted publicity, after the arrests of Charlie Shrem andRobert Faiella, in the US. Shrem and Faiella worked together to exchange over $1 million in Bitcoins to users of the Silk Road. The Silk Road, which has been shut down since October 2013, was an illegal trading place of illicit materials, such as illegal drugs and weapons. Bitcoin was the only accepted currency on the Silk Road.

Stock prices of Bitcoin fell as a result of this news from $830 to $665, a drop of nearly 20%. Prices also fell after the arrests of Shrem and Faiella, so this latest hiccup is something that Bitcoin could have done without. However, that does not stop the meteoric rise of virtual currencies, in particular Bitcoin, over the last 12 months or so. Less than two years ago, in July 2012, Bitcoin’s value was at just $9, which itself was a revelation at the time.

On this basis, it would be a safe assumption that Bitcoin might not be too worried about this latest incident.


US Makes BitCoin arrests

US law enforcers have made arrests of two men accused of operating a Bitcoin exchange in connection with the Silk Road exchange. The Silk Road is part of an ongoing investigation.

Robert Faiella – known as “BTCKing” – and Charlie Shrem from BitInstant have both been charged with money laundering by The Department Of Justice.The authorities said the pair were engaged in a scheme to sell more than $1m (603,000) in bitcoins to users of online drug marketplace the Silk Road.

The Silk Road was shut down last October, and its suspected administrator arrested on charges of conspiracy to traffic narcotics. The site’s assets were later seized as part of the ongoing investigation

The United States Justice Department published a statement on their website Monday morning confirming that the two men, Robert Faiella and Charlie Shrem, had been arrested within hours of each other and both charged with one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering and one count of operating an unlicensed money transmitting business. If convicted, the men would face a maximum of 25 years in prison.

As alleged, Robert Faiella and Charlie Shrem schemed to sell over $1 million in Bitcoins to criminals bent on trafficking narcotics on the dark web drug site, Silk Road, Preet Bharara, the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, said in Monday’s statement. Truly innovative business models dont need to resort to old-fashioned law-breaking, and when Bitcoins, like any traditional currency, are laundered and used to fuel criminal activity, law enforcement has no choice but to act. We will aggressively pursue those who would coopt new forms of currency for illicit purposes.

Shrem, the CEO of the Bitcoin exchange service BitInstant, was also charged with one count of willful failure to file a suspicious activity report, which carries a maximum sentence of five years.

There is no question that Bitcoin is growing more popular, with one UK university even beginning to use it as a form of payment for some courses, but will it grow into a more legitimate form of currency, or will it continue to be associated with illegal activity?

Our Customers

  • ATOS
  • Age UK
  • Alliance Pharma
  • Liverpool Football Club
  • CSC
  • Centrica
  • Citizens Advice
  • City of London
  • Fujitsu
  • Government Offices
  • HCL
  • LK Bennett
  • Lambretta Clothing
  • Leicester City
  • Lloyds Register
  • Logica
  • Meadowvale
  • National Farmers Union
  • Network Rail
  • PKR

Sales question? Need support? Start a chat session with one of our experts!

For support, call the 24-hour hotline:

UK: 0800 999 3600
US: 800-220-7013

Or, if you've been given a screen sharing code:

Existing customer?

Click below to login to our secure enterprise Portal and view the real-time status of your data protection.

Login to Portal