Don't let them infect your devices

Bitcoin- a digital currency made for cyber criminals

Is Bitcoin set to become the currency of choice for cyber criminals? It certainly looks that way.  Bitcoin is an untraceable virtual currency that’s ideal for cyber criminals. It’s not backed by any central bank and can be transferred between any two people anywhere.     The popularity of illicit bitcoin miners and stealers are growing and ransomware scams such as CrytpoLocker are set to begin demanding payments in bitcoins. According to some, CryptoLocker netted the people behind the scheme about £250,000 in its first 100 days though the figure may be much higher.

Ramped up detection for Bitcoins 

As these attacks increase in scale and organizations like the FBI and the UK’s National Crime Agency, ramp up their detection abilities and call on the services of the intelligence agencies, which they’ve already begun doing, the capacity  to track money payments will increase. Of course the cyber villains are going to want to cover their tracks and Bitcoins are the ideal method. Banks in Israel recently received an email saying that if they didn’t hand over a stipulated sum of money in Bitcoins, a list of customer details would be handed over to criminals. The hacker claimed that he was behind a Trojan botnet network that had infected millions of systems and had collected a huge trove of stolen information, passwords, banking information and credit card numbers.  The blackmail attempt was reported to the police. At the time of writing it’s not known how serious the threat was.

Burgers and bouquets purchased with Bitcoins

While online payments with Bitcoins aren’t unusual, real-world transactions are gradually becoming acceptable. In the real world, growing numbers of retailers are accepting Bitcoins as valid currency so products as diverse as burgers and bouquets can be bought using the currency. There are about 12.2 million Bitcoins in circulation according to Bitcoincharts. Its early day’s for the digital currency in the mainstream. But the more mainstream it does become the more attractive it is for cyber criminals. In the deep web it’s already the de facto currency and is used to buy anything from guns and drugs to stolen credit card details, hacked PayPal accounts, counterfeit currency and more.

Protect your online identity

This is one to keep an eye on especially ransomware that demands payment in Bitcoins. Of course you can keep yourself safe from this particular nasty by ensuring you’ve got good antivirus running or even better still all around online identity theft protection that guards not only your computer but also your personal details. It pays to keep up to speed with what is happening in the cyber world.  Attacks are becoming increasingly sophisticated while worryingly many people lack even the most rudimentary protection.

Written by Steve Bell

Steve has a background in IT and business journalism and has written extensively for both the UK national and trade press including The Guardian, Independent-on-Sunday, The Times, The Register, MicroScope and Computer Weekly. He's also worked for most of the world's largest IT companies producing content producing. He has a particular focus on IT security and has produced several magazines in this area.

More articles by Steve Bell

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