CryptoLocker gang casts tentacles into botnet crime world
The cyber-gang running the CryptoLocker extortion racket is sharing a big cut of any payments they squeeze out of their victims with criminal botnet owners working closely with them, says Symantec, which has been monitoring this underworld activity online.
The CryptoLocker gang, believed to be mainly Russian-speaking, created the malware that makes use of strong encryption to lock up the victim’s electronic files until the victim pays a ransom, which typically starts at least $150 to get the key to unlock their scrambled files. The gang itself is paying criminal botnet owners operating vast command-and-control systems of compromised computers to distribute CryptoLocker as a dangerous attachment in spam, says Liam O’Murchu, manager of security response operations at Symantec. In addition to spam distribution, which relies on the victim opening the malware-laden attachment to spread CryptoLocker, the gang is willing to pay a botnet owner as much as 75% of any extortion money they can get from victims if the botnet owner directly drops CryptoLocker onto a compromised machine it already controls.