Ransomware 'customer support' chat reveals criminals' ruthlessness

Gregg Keizer

But as F-Secure's Sullivan noted, many the questions posed to the hackers involved Bitcoin. "Hello, I am from Greece and we have capitol [sic] controls, is there any chance of a discount? Am having trouble buy bitcoins from here," remarked one.

"I'm going to pay for bitcoin. But I'm not sure that it works in weekend. Can you remove deadline please? If not works I will pay it on Monday," pleaded another.

The answer from Spora was always the same: No discount. The "rep" often extended deadlines, however, sometimes in response to victims pleading poverty, telling them that when they had the full amount, come back and pay.

"The malware technology to encrypt data has been possible for many, many years; the bigger challenge has always been getting paid," Sullivan pointed out. "In the past, cyber-crime schemes (such as scareware) have been killed off by disrupting the money supply. The same may well be true of cyber extortion; to kill the business model, it may be necessary to ban Bitcoin."

The complete Spora transcripts can be found here.

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