Thousands of people have been cornered to paying bitcoin ransom as the only way to get their networks and computers back up after cyber attack. Althou
Thousands of people have been cornered to paying bitcoin ransom as the only way to get their networks and computers back up after cyber attack. Although the perpetrators were long discovered as Avalanche Network, it took the effort of the European Union and USA to disable their activities. Prosecutor’s office in Pennsylvania State was among the many that had no alternative to paying nearly $1,400 in ransom after their system was attacked by the “former” international cybercrime operation.
Authorities disclosed that an undisclosed state government personality was victimized although district attorney Stephen Zappala Jr of Allegheny County confirmed that his office was the one attacked. According to his reports, the cybercrime ring gained control over their network when an employee clicked on a link embedded in a phishing email back in January 2015. The link appeared to come from genuine government agency but turned out to be a malware distribution gateway that compromised their documents and systems. Phishing is one of the most popular ways hackers use to gain access to people’s computers as it allows them to quickly install malware once the link has been opened. Mr. Zappala’s office was able to trace the email back to Australia but failed to locate the sources. He noted the bitcoin ransom paid in federal court documents.
Acting US attorney Soo Song said Avalanche network had been operating since 2010 and had infected over 500,000 computers worldwide. Disbanding the group and stopping its operations took an unprecedented scope of cooperation between some 40 countries. Investigations have led to five arrests and the malware was found in 189 different countries worldwide. Mr. Song of Pittsburg stated that the arrested will be tried and prosecuted in the US courts and confirmed that the identities of the suspects was yet to be officially released.
Avalanche ring of cybercrime money mules have been targeting big companies and stealing huge amounts. Two more unidentified companies in Pennsylvania were their targets. An attempted transfer of $243,000 from New Castle Company was prevented earlier this year when the perpetrators used seven different fraudulent wire transactions. They managed to get away with $387,500 from Carnegie Firm wiring the money from the company’s bank account. The money was later recovered. According to Mr. Song’s comments, officials in Germany started investigating Avalanche about four years ago and also asked the involvement on the US government to stop the network. In Pittsburgh, which is home to the NC-FTA (national cyber forensics and training alliance), a group of cyber experts, FBI and other law enforcement departments together with the partnering countries were able to disable Avalanche. While this is a big step towards stopping all such activities, the specific sources are yet to be identified. The attacks also pushed many big companies to frequently upgrade their systems and prevent attacks before they occur. Employee training on how to identify and report possible attacks will also be among the top priorities for companies that are susceptible to such fraudulent exploits. Hopefully continued investigations will lead to more arrests and prosecution of those involved, or even compensation of the ransoms charged.