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UK Bitcoin Ransomware Cases Spiked Over the Last 24 Months

The cryptocurrency industry isn’t new to reports of ransomware attacks – whether against exchanges or some other asset custodians. However, a new report is showing that things could be even direr than everyone thought, especially in the United Kingdom.

The Same M.O

According to figures released by the Freedom of Information Act (FOI), police officers and other law enforcement agencies received 562 Bitcoin-related ransomware reports between 2018 and 2019. The report painted a nuanced picture of Bitcoin’s prominence amongst ransomware attackers, while also revealing some of the bigger hotspots for ransomware attackers.

Going further, the report confirmed that police in North Yorkshire received the highest number of crime reports. While figures stood at just 6 in 2018, they saw almost a 2,000 percent surge in 2019 and rose to 115. That means that of all the reports filed between the two years, cases in North Yorkshire alone accounted for 22 percent. 

Other areas that were significantly hit by these attacks were Greater Manchester, Leicestershire, and Hertfordshire. Lincolnshire received the least number of cases, with just eight reported in the 24-month period. The research also showed the mode of operation employed by most of these hackers. Most encrypted highly sensitive data and either promised to lock them down (in the case of businesses) or expose them (porn site visits and other embarrassing information) if the Bitcoin ransom wasn’t paid expeditiously. 

Things aren’t going much better across the pond as well. Last month, the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) published a report confirming that ransomware attackers had stolen about $144 million in Bitcoin from victims over the past six years.

FBI Reports $144 Million in Stolen Crypto 

In the report, FBI supervisor Joel DeCapua confirmed that most ransomware attackers ask for their money to be sent in Bitcoin, although he also added that the agency’s numbers don’t reflect any associated losses suffered. 

The session was titled “Feds Fighting Ransomware: How the FBI Investigates and How You Can Help,” and it involves analyses of the ransomware space. The agency confirmed that Ryuk – a Chinese virus that’s become the most feared ransomware system – managed to capture $61 million of the cume on its own – the most rallies in a year. Dharma was also found to have garnered about $24 million in just 36 months.

With that in mind, a new ransomware strain has started to terrorize victims, using the established fear of the COVID-19 outbreak to make a quick buck. As cybersecurity firm CheckPoint Research reported, coronavirusapp.site, a new website, had been facilitating the installation of new ransomware known as “CovidLock.”

The security firm explained that the website prompts all visitors to install an Android-based application that allegedly helps them to track updates concerning the virus. It also claims to use a heatmap to alert them when someone with the virus gets within close distance of them. However, the website only acts as a conduit for the ransomware. Once installed, CovidLock changes the device’s lock screen and demands a payment of $100 in Bitcoin in exchange for a password that will unlock it. If the ransom isn’t paid in 2 days, the attackers threaten to clear the device of all its data.

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      Jimmy has been following the development of blockchain for several years, and he is optimistic about its potential to democratize the financial system.