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Ransomware Likely use Ponzi Scheme to Double the Malicious Attack

By KM Diaz, | June 12, 2017

Experts warn that the future attacks of cyber criminals will be linked with a Ponzi scheme to double the crime. (YouTube)

Experts warn that the future attacks of cyber criminals will be linked with a Ponzi scheme to double the crime. (YouTube)

The attack discovered late last year uses Ponzi scheme. Cybersecurity researchers dubbed the ransomware as "Popcorn Time," this is the first ever Ponzi scheme on internet's oldest types of cyber attacks. Now, experts warn that the future attacks of cyber criminals will be linked with a Ponzi scheme to double the crime. 

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The Popcorn Time ransomware initially deploys message that will pop up on the screen of the computer, letting the victims know they had been hacked. A second message will then appear to give them way out of the attack. To be able to get out of the hack, the victim needs to choose on either paying the ransom worth of $2,365 through bitcoin to recover the access of the computer, or the victim should infect two computers on behalf of the attacker. Therefore, it makes a pyramiding attack or Ponzi scheme.

Ransomware is a type of malicious software that holds hostage and demands to pay for ransom to release the victim. According to security companies, hackers raked in approximately $1 billion worth of ransom in 2016 attacks.

However, this year is much bigger since ransomware schemes multiply. One example is the WannaCry attack last month, in which it made global headlines for infecting thousands of computers in 74 countries within a day. WannaCry is just the tip of the iceberg, security researchers warn. Experts are tracking new schemes made by criminals searching for victims who are instantly willing to pay hundreds just to regain access.

Mikko Hypponen, a chief research officer at F-Secure, said that ransomware scheme is growing business because hackers are becoming more effective and creative to make the attack works. Hypponen and his team first discovered the Popcorn malware, which is considered to be different in the world of ransomware.

This is the first attempt in combining cyberattack to Ponzi scheme; one victim will entrap another victim, with malware that operates a computer hostage for payment.

Asaf Cidon, who studies ransomware and a vice president at the security company Barracuda Networks, said that criminals become sophisticated, particularly in choosing their victims. Hackers attack a specific department of the company, for example, the human resources as they know the links and emails here.

Some notable ransomware schemes that recently discovered include infecting Internet-connected home devices, like the LG Smart TV. In here, a fake FBI warning will be displayed on the screen of the television asking for $500 to unlock it.

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