For Ransom, Bitcoin Replaces the Bag of Bills

In the old days, ransom payments were made with briefcases full of unmarked bills. These days, the virtual currency Bitcoin is the preferred method.
過去,人們以手提箱裝滿未做記號的鈔票付贖金。現今,使用虛擬貨幣比特幣才是首選的付款方式。

 

Around the world, in their quest for Bitcoins, hackers have seized files on millions of computers, taken down websites and even threatened physical harm. The victims – who have ranged from ordinary computer users to financial firms and police departments – are told the only way out is through a Bitcoin payment that is sometimes more than $20,000.
在全球各地,駭客劫持數百萬台電腦的檔案、搞垮網站或甚至威脅人身安全,只為取得比特幣。受害人從一般電腦用戶、金融企業到警察部門不一而足,他們被告知,以比特幣付款是唯一活路,有時金額逾2萬美元。


One set of attackers, believed to be in Russia and Ukraine, collected about $16.5 million in Bitcoins in a little over a month, primarily from victims in the United States, according to the security firm Sophos.
安全公司索佛斯說,據信是在俄羅斯或烏克蘭的一組駭客,略多於一個月的時間裡就得手約值1650萬美元的比特幣,受害人主要在美國。


Criminals like the virtual currency because it can be held in a digital wallet that does not have to be registered with any government or financial authority – and because it can be easily exchanged for real money. A single Bitcoin can be sold online or on the street for around $290.
罪犯偏好虛擬貨幣,因為它可存入數位錢包,不需向任何政府或金融機構登記,它還能輕易兌現。在網路或街頭一比特幣約可賣到290美元。


Bitcoin, which was released by an anonymous creator in 2009, has recently been gaining mainstream appeal. Start-ups in the industry have won investments from big names like Goldman Sachs and the New York Stock Exchange, which have praised the technology as a faster, more efficient way to complete financial transactions.
比特幣2009年由一無名創造者釋出,最近還享有主流貨幣的魅力。這項產業的一些新創公司已獲高盛、紐約證券交易所等知名機構投資,稱讚這項技術是完成金融交易更快、更有效的途徑。

 

But the proliferation of ransom demands has provided an unhappy reminder of the virtual currency’s continuing appeal to the criminal underworld, long after the authorities shut down the online drug bazaar, Silk Road, where heroin and cocaine were sold using Bitcoin.
不過,比特幣贖金的需求激增,令人不愉快地聯想到,在當局關閉以比特幣交易海洛因與古柯鹼的網路毒市「絲綢之路」如此之久後,這個虛擬貨幣對黑社會仍深具吸引力。


The latest reminder of Bitcoin’s underbelly came in July with the arrest of two Florida men. Theauthorities saidvictims of malware were steered toCoin.mx, a site run by the two men, to buy the Bitcoins to pay the ransom demanded by the malware. In a separate set of recent cases, security experts said, several financial firms were attacked by a criminal, or circle of criminals, going by the name DD4BC, who have threatened to overwhelm the firms’ public websites with message traffic unless a Bitcoin payment was made. These corporate victims are generally asked to pay about $10,000, the security experts said, and the attacks have shown no signs of abating.
最新的比特幣負面聯想案例發生於七月,兩名佛州男子被捕。當局說,惡意軟體引導受害人至兩人經營的網站Coin.mx,要求受害人購買比特幣支付贖金。安全專家指出,在最近另外一連串案件中,數家金融公司遭到一罪犯或犯罪集團攻擊,這個代號DD4BC的駭客揚言以訊息流量灌爆公司的公共網站,除非公司支付比特幣贖金。安全專家說,這些企業受害人一般支付1萬美元,而且攻擊並無減少跡象。


“Do not ignore me, as it will just increase the price,” DD4BC said in one email that was public. “Once you pay me you are free from me for the lifetime of your site.”
在公諸於世的一封電郵中,DD4BC說:「不要對我視若無睹,這只會提高價碼。只要付錢,你的網站一輩子不再被我攻擊。」


Ted Weisberg, the president of the brokerage firm Seaport Securities, said his firm did not pay the ransom and repelled the bombardment of traffic with the help of one of its technical providers.
經紀公司海港證券總裁泰德.威斯伯格說,該公司未付贖金,而是在公司的技術供應商協助下擊退了流量轟炸。

 

Bitcoin is run by a decentralized network of computers that collects no personal information about users. What’s more, Bitcoin transactions are designed to be irreversible, so victims cannot reclaim their money as they could with a credit card or PayPal transaction.
比特幣是由非集中式、也並不收集用戶個資的一個電腦網絡經營。更重要的是,比特幣交易被設計成不可逆,因此受害人無法收回錢,不像信用卡或PayPal交易可以退錢。


In late 2013, the first version of Bitcoin-fueled ransomware, known as CryptoLocker, began to spread around the globe.
2013年底,為比特幣而生的第一版「勒索軟體」開始在全球散播,名為CryptoLocker。


The software encrypted all of the files on a computer and offered a key to unlock the files in exchange for a Bitcoin payment.
該軟體會把某部電腦的所有檔案加密,要求付比特幣贖金已換取解檔鑰匙。


When an alliance of international authorities took down CryptoLocker in mid-2014 and identified the mastermind as a 30-year-old Russian named Evgeniy Bogachev,the group saidthat the software had spread to 234,000 computers. Since then, much more virulent strains havepopped up, most of them under the name CryptoWall.
由國際當局合組的聯盟2014年年中將CryptoLocker拆除,揪出主謀是30歲俄國人葉夫根尼.鮑加契夫,該集團說已將軟體散布至23萬4000台電腦。其後,更惡毒的病毒株不斷出現,多數在CryptoWall名下。


In late 2014, Dell SecureWorks said CryptoWall had infected over 800,000 computers. New versions of the malware, going by names like TorrentLocker and Dirty Decrypt, have popped up frequently since then.
2014年底,「戴爾安全工作室」說,CryptoWall已感染逾80萬台電腦。其後,該惡意軟體的新版如TorrentLocker和Dirty Decrypt經常現身。

 

A police department in Durham, New Hampshire, that was hit by CryptoWall in June 2014, refused to hand over the ransom and wasable to revertto backup files. But more recently, police departments inDickson County, Tennessee, andTewksbury, Massachusetts, have said that they chose to pay the roughly $500 ransom.
新罕布夏州德爾罕警局2014年6月遭CryptoWall攻擊,但拒付贖金,並成功轉到備份文件。但最近,田納西州迪克森縣、麻州圖克斯伯里市的警局都選擇支付約500美元的贖金。


Extortionists went after two longtime Bitcoin advocates last year. When one of the men, Hal Finney, refused to pay, the assailant called the local police and reported a murder at Mr. Finney’s home, resulting in a SWAT team taking over the home, thefamily has said. The other victim, Roger Ver, threw off his attacker byoffering a Bitcoin bountyof roughly $20,000 for his attacker’s arrest.
勒索分子去年盯上長期提倡比特幣的兩人。其中一人哈爾.芬尼拒付贖金,他的家人說,攻擊者打電話給當地警局,謊稱芬尼家發生命案,引來霹靂小組圍攻他家。另一受害人羅傑.韋爾則以懸賞約值2萬美元的比特幣捉拿攻擊者擺脫對方。


Some prominent supporters of Bitcoinhave suggesteddigitally marking any coins used for ransom payments, similar to how dollar bills used in hostage situations are marked with invisible dye.
一些知名的比特幣支持者建議在比特幣贖金上做數位記號,類似人質遭綁架時以隱形染料在美鈔上做記號。


But such solutions have been held up because of the value that many Bitcoin believers have put in the virtual currency’s unfettered free movement.
但此類解決方案暫遭擱置,因為許多比特幣的信徒認為,不受拘束自由移動,是這種虛擬貨幣十分重要的價值。

 

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