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CryptoLocker reduces ransom as bitcoin surges

CryptoLocker scammers are frantically adjusting ransom demands after bitcoin prices rose to unprecedented levels in recent weeks and meant the price to decrypt information topped £1,000.

The amount of bitcoins demanded by CryptoLocker fell from two BTC to 0.5 BTC in the latest version and comes after the price of bitcoins rose to around $800 [£495] in the wake of a US Senate hearing looking at the currency’s potential.

“The price of Bitcoin has been wildly volatile lately. And that type of commodity volatility affects Bitcoin’s ability to act as a currency because prices are quickly driven out of whack. Even for ransomware such as CryptoLocker,” Sean Sullivan, security advisor at F-Secure, told Tech Week Europe.

The team behind CryptoLocker, which was first released in September, were demanding $300 from the outset that, at the time, was worth two bitcoins before it started to rise earlier this month.

CryptoLocker works as a Trojan that encrypts documents on a victim’s computer and effectively holds the customer to ransom for $300 [£185] to retrieve the information. If the victim refuses to pay up, CryptoLocker threatens to delete the decryption key that means it will be neigh-on impossible to recover the documents or information.

The ransomware tool has grown in stature over the past few months with the UK’s National Crime Agency [NCA] concerned enough to issue a warning to all UK small to medium enterprises [SMEs] to warn them of it being a significant risk to business.

At the same time BitDefender revealed that around 10,000 victims were affected by the campaign in one week alone and that the number could grow if more isn’t done to combat it.

As far as bitcoin is concerned it has bounced back from being knocked slightly following its links to arrested Silk Road owner Ross Ulbricht and the US Senate committee stated that it “may hold long-term promise.”