When people think about ransomware, they will automatically think of the evil cryptocurrencies. After all, currencies such as Bitcoin facilitate this illegal behavior, due to it being an anonymous payment method. Slowly but surely, however, consumers are realizing Bitcoin is not to blame for ransomware attacks. A new unnamed type of ransomware only accepts PaySafeCard payments. An intriguing turn of events, to say the least.
PaySafeCard Ransomware Is Not Much of A Threat
For those who have never heard of this particular payment method, PaySafeCard is one of the most anonymous payment solutions in the world. The system works through prepaid codes, which can be purchased over the counter without ID verification. Most retail locations sell these cards in denominations of US$10, US$20, US$50, and US$100. When using the code, there is no demand for ID verification whatsoever, which poses a big risk.
It is not entirely surprising a lot of criminals see the benefit of PaySafeCard. Unlike Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies, it is far easier to purchase, and the procedure is a lot more straightforward. This translates into nefarious tools being developed, all of which demand a payment be made. In most cases, said payment can only be made in Bitcoin, but this new PaySafeCard ransomware strain is doing things a bit differently.
— Karsten Hahn (@struppigel) June 13, 2017
In fact, the victims of this malware can only recover their files by making a US$20 PaySafeCard payment. This means they need to visit a participating brick-and-mortar retailer to buy the card and send the code to the attacker. It is a very simple process, but one that can have major repercussions. After all, it is evident these legal anonymous payment solutions facilitate cybercrime, terrorism, and who knows what else. Bitcoin should be the least of worries in this regard.
However, one should not pay the ransom demand anyway. Paying cybercirminals is never the answer to a problem. Even though it sounds convenient to buy a PaySafeCard and send the code to get rid of this malware, it appears the ransomware strain is rather harmless. More specifically, it does not appear to encrypt files by any means. Instead, it just renames them to a different extension. This is not uncommon these days, as it remains to be seen if this malware will ever be deployed on a large scale.
All of this goes to show cybercirminals are looking for alternative ways to make money. That is not surprising, as Bitcoin is far too complex for most ransomware victims to even deal with. PaySafeCard and other payment solutions we covered in a separate article will become far more common when having to deal with these types of attacks. Moreover, Bitcoin isn’t an anonymous payment method by any means,m thus there is very little reason to use it for criminal activities.
In this day and age of emerging ransomware-as-a-service solutions, anyone can create their own version of nefarious software. This will also lead to a lot of unprofessional attempts as well, and this PaySafeCard example appears to fall into this category. Then again, it is possible even these semi-rubbish attempts at ransomware will allow developers to make a lot of money over time.
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