Three US federal agencies – the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Agency for Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security and the Multistate Clearinghouse and Analysis Center – jointly issued a request for information to curb ransomware attacks.
As part of the #StopRansomware campaign, the joint cybersecurity advisor has alerted citizens of the Vice Society, a ransomware-type program that encrypts data and demands a ransom in exchange for decryption.
The trio anticipates a rise in ransomware attacks, primarily targeting educational institutions, adding that “school districts with limited cybersecurity capabilities and limited resources are often the most vulnerable.”
While proactive measures remain vital to countering ransomware, the FBI has asked US citizens to report information that helps track the whereabouts of hackers. Some of the basic information the FBI is looking for include Bitcoin (BTC) wallet information, ransom notes, and IP addresses associated with the attacker.
With wallet addresses, authorities can roll back illicit transactions on the immutable Bitcoin blockchain without worrying that the path will go cold.
While Bitcoin allows frictionless cross-border transactions, most attackers prefer to use fiat currencies to fund their illicit activities. It also found that only 0.15% of activity on the blockchain in 2021 was related to crime, which was steadily declining year on year.
Moreover, the three federal agencies strongly discourage Americans from paying the ransom “because payment does not guarantee recovery of victims’ files.” Individuals affected by ransomware attacks can report the details by visiting their local FBI office or through official communication channels.
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Dutch prosecutors recently tracked down cryptocurrency wallets linked to the ransomware attack on Maastricht University (UM) in the Netherlands.
In 2019, a ransomware hack froze all UM assets, such as search data, emails, and library resources. UM later agreed to pay €200,000 (or $198,760) in BTC, which is currently valued at around €500,000 (or $496,900).