TeslaCrypt shuts down
Security & Fraud

Ransomware Creators Call It Quits

Not only are ransomware creators TeslaCrypt closing up shop, the group is also reportedly sorry for all the damage they inflicted during their run.

The now-defunct ransomware Trojan was designed to find and encrypt video games on PCs. But, with the announcement of its shutdown, the ransomware creators also released the malicious software’s master decryption key, thus enabling victims of the malware to unlock their systems.

ZDNet reported on Thursday (May 19) that the cybercriminals behind TeslaCrypt also shut down the payments system used to collect ransoms from its victims, usually in the form of bitcoin, as well.

Though the news of TeslaCrypt’s end is good, albeit very unexpected news for both victims and security researchers, the fight against ransomware remains an uphill battle.

Last month, the FBI stated that the use of ransomware has reached an all-time high.

In the first three months of 2016 alone, cybercriminals collected an estimated $209 million by extorting businesses and institutions to unlock computer servers. At that rate, ransomware will be a $1 billion a year criminal industry this year, with total losses being even higher once related business costs are factored in.

The onset of malicious software that holds a user’s computer hostage unless the perpetuator is paid off, generally in bitcoin, was described as “a prevalent, increasing threat” by Chris Stangl, a section chief at the FBI’s Cyber Division.

The FBI’s data shows that, in 2015, there were roughly 2,453 reported ransomware incidents. All in, victims lost about $24.1 million. That is an apparent pickup from 2014, though the comparisons are imperfect because 2014 saw a change to the current data collection method. The FBI noted that, during the last nine months of 2014, there were 1,838 reported incidents for losses of $23.8 million.

Unfortunately, for businesses and private citizens, the ransomware problem is one that may be getting worse before it gets better.

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