Please create an account to participate in the Slashdot moderation system

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Bitcoin Businesses Crime

Bitcoin's Fluctuations Are Too Much For Even Ransomware Cybercriminals (theguardian.com) 84

Bitcoin's price swings are so huge that even ransomware developers are dialling back their reliance on the currency, according to researchers at cybersecurity firm Proofpoint. From a report: Over the last quarter of 2017, researchers saw a fall of 73% in payment demands denominated in bitcoin. When demanding money to unlock a victim's data, cybercriminals are now more likely to simply ask for a figure in US dollars, or a local currency, than specify a sum of bitcoin. Just like conventional salespeople, ransomware developers pay careful attention to the prices they charge. Some criminals offer discounts depending on the region the victim is in, offering cheaper unlocking to residents of developing nations, while others use an escalating price to encourage users to pay quickly and without overthinking things. But a rapidly oscillating bitcoin price plays havoc with those goals, Proofpoint says.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Bitcoin's Fluctuations Are Too Much For Even Ransomware Cybercriminals

Comments Filter:
  • "Ethical hackers"...

    • Cybercriminals = criminals that use computers.

      Banks that don't use computers = haven't existed in decades. all banks us computers, yet we don't call them Cyberbanks.

      Nobody says Cyberbusiness, or Cyberschool, or Cybermedicine.

      • by cfalcon ( 779563 )

        A cybercriminal is committing a crime that fundamentally relies on computers: if you took the computer away, there would be no crime. The topic of this is hackers who illegally deploy software on a computer that illegally destroys data on that computer and demands that you convert money to a computer currency and pay it to a network of computers (because they all use bitcoin- they just started denominating the ransom demands in dollars so people can actually pay the ransom, because if you meant to ask some

        • The realworld equivalent of ransomware doesn't exist, because people don't blindly follow orders from mysterious actors in the same literal fashion that computers do.

          Extortion. Confidence scheme [wikipedia.org]. Some of what we call "cybercrime" are not really all that new. Certainly the anonymity and exploiting the general technology ignorance of average people help these tricks work.

      • Nobody says Cyberbusiness, or Cyberschool, or Cybermedicine.

        Speak for yourself, square!

    • "Ethical hackers"...

      Indeed. You have to admire criminals that are willing to accomodate their victims' ability to pay.

      Also, ransomware has some positive benefits. For so many areas of computer security, the cost of poor practices is externalized onto the innocent. This is true of data breaches, insecure devices used as spambots, etc. But with ransomware, the cost lands directly in the lap of the people failing to secure their systems and failing to run backups. So ransomware directly incentivizes better security practices

      • "Ethical hackers"...

        But with ransomware, the cost lands directly in the lap of the people failing to secure their systems and failing to run backups.

        ...and then the cost is externalized to customers (aka "onto the innocent").

        • If a business could simply raise its prices, it would already do so. If they could charge a million dollars a pop, do you think they wouldn't already be doing that? Especially if a company has competitors which are unaffected. Would the company raise their prices and the competitors don't? What would the result of that approach be?
        • That's just an inescapable fact though. You could just as easily say that the cost of having police is externalized onto innocent tax payers, but most people are reasonably in favor of having a legal system and officers of the law.
      • Also, ransomware has some positive benefits. For so many areas of computer security, the cost of poor practices is externalized onto the innocent.

        Just think of it as a whole world Chaos Monkey [wikipedia.org].

      • by sjames ( 1099 )

        So, when you get home one day and find your place picked clean, will you post an open thank you note to the burglars for teaching you an important lesson about what happens when you don't put bars on the windows?

        • It's more like an unlocked door with the key under the doormat and the door open wide.

          • by sjames ( 1099 )

            If you think about it for a moment, most homes are trivial to break in to even if the door is locked. Any elementary school kid could do it. They don't because they're taught it's wrong and they would likely get in trouble. A computer that actually has a password on it is harder. The problem is the bad guys can reach it from across the world and know they WON'T get in trouble the vast majority of the time.

            • It's a neighborhood problem. If you live in a bad neighborhood, you lock your doors and make sure your windows are closed, make sure you have quality locks on the door AND the windows. Because in such a neighborhood, the next burglar could be standing right in front of your door in a minute.

              And on the internet, you ARE in a bad neighborhood. Always. And ALL the burglars are standing in front of your door ALL the time.

              • by sjames ( 1099 )

                You'll also need to have a deadbolt on the door, the door needs to be steel, and you'll need bars on the windows. Now you're up to the level that it would take a middle school kid to break in and it'll take time and make some noise, or a high school kid might manage to pick the locks.

                You're pretty bad at home security, it seems. Do you deserve to get cleaned out? I'm guessing you'll say no, and you'll be right. Same way nobody deserves one of those crypto extortion attacks.

                • Sorry to say it, but "deserving" it does not enter the equation. Welcome to reality, it has one quality: It isn't fair. What you "deserve" means diddly squat.

                  • by sjames ( 1099 )

                    Let's put it this way, would you consider the burglars who cleaned you out to have done a public service like the person I replied to claimed?

                    • You replied to me and I did not claim that.

                      What I claimed is that the internet IS a bad neighborhood, and that many people don't realize that. It's, funny enough, part of my job to raise awareness for this, and no, I don't think anyone "deserves" getting swindled, conned or tricked out of their money. But I do think that everyone deserves the information that this is a problem and I also think that everyone should be aware that this is a problem and behave accordingly.

                      When I read about people losing thousan

                    • by sjames ( 1099 )

                      I replied to ShanghaiBill, then you replied to me. The nice thing about web fora is that they keep a transcript. Perhaps you should scroll up and read it.

                      I am well aware that the internet is a lot like a bad neighborhood, I see logs of mostly lazy attempts at root passwords and such daily. I too urge better security. Unlike SB, I see no benefit to ransomware to anyone but the scumbags that collect the ransom.

  • Sounds like normal retailers who accept bitcoin, do all the accounting and pricing in fiat (dollar, euro, etc) and if someone wants to use bitcoin then the real-time exchange rate is used to find the equivalent number of bitcoins. Many bitcoin accepting merchants never even see or touch a bitcoin, farming the payment processing out to a processor who determines the equivalent number of bitcoins and provides a payment address, when the coins show up and are verified the merchant is informed so they can deliv
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Except because of transaction times, overhead, time until cashing in the coins, and volatility, it's impossible to accurately pay a value of X USD/X GBP/X Euro in bitcoin. Even Steam, a service that sells virtual goods and could therefore just take "tried to pay X" as good enough, no longer accepts bitcoin.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Except because of transaction times, overhead, time until cashing in the coins,

        Even shitty exchanges lock in the price at the time of your purported transaction. This has little to do with it.

        volatility

        This is half of the problem. The simple fact is nobody's going to pay you a bitcoin for a sandwich when that bitcoin could, tomorrow, buy three sandwiches. That's just fucking retarded.

        The other half of the problem is the technology is shit, and transaction fees are beyond the realm of fucktarded. Nobody's going to pay you $20 in fees to buy a fucking sandwich.

        Of course, magic woo is comin

  • OK, bitcoin is seriously running out of use cases. Despite its reported "value," it's becoming more worthless by the day.

    • by perpenso ( 1613749 ) on Thursday January 18, 2018 @05:59PM (#55955999)

      OK, bitcoin is seriously running out of use cases. Despite its reported "value," it's becoming more worthless by the day.

      "running out"? Its mostly been either a speculative instrument or a money transfer service. The former wants the volatility, the later doesn't really care so much since bitcoins are not held for any appreciable amount of time (immediately bought by person A, transferred, immediately sold by person B). The later is affected by the current high fees.

      Buying pizza and other normal products and services is largely a stunt. Why would true believers use the bitcoins for ordinary purchases when they expect bitcoin prices denominated in dollars/euros/etc to jump up significantly? For the gray and dark markets, they're switching to other coins with better anonymity. Its sort of surprising ransomware had not done so, or maybe they still use bitcoin for "customer" convenience and convert to the more anonymous coins on their side?

      So no, bitcoin is not very different now than in the past. These huge price drops are "normal". If I remember an Ars Technica article correctly the exponential price increases are typically (4 occurrences ?)) followed by a 75% drop in price. Ex the previous spike to around $1,000 a few years ago followed by a drop to around $250. If the pattern holds we might see something around $5,000 yet.

      • by Smidge204 ( 605297 ) on Thursday January 18, 2018 @08:35PM (#55956959) Journal

        the later doesn't really care so much since bitcoins are not held for any appreciable amount of time (immediately bought by person A, transferred, immediately sold by person B)

        Buying bitcoin, transferring it and selling it again is three transactions; That will take roughly four hours. As evidenced a few days ago, Bitcoin could easily gain or lose 10% or more of its value in those four hours. No sane or intelligent person would attempt it, unless they were desperate to hide the movement of money.

        And even the criminals are starting to doubt it's worth it.
        =Smidge=

        • Buying bitcoin, transferring it and selling it again is three transactions; That will take roughly four hours.

          Which, by the way, is still faster than other form of "transfer without a central authority", like bank money transfer (from a day up to a couple of days).

          As evidenced a few days ago, Bitcoin could easily gain or lose 10% or more of its value in those four hours.

          Which, by the way, is still within the same kind of margin that some central authority money transfers end up costing.

          No sane or intelligent person would attempt it, unless they were desperate to hide the movement of money.

          How are you supposed to *hide* movements of money, on a system whose entire purpose of existence is to replace central authorities, with a system where every single movement of money is broadcast to the entire network and kept in a distrib

          • Which, by the way, is still faster than other form of "transfer without a central authority", like bank money transfer (from a day up to a couple of days).

            So what? Over the course of a 3-4 days, exchange rates rarely vary by more than a percent or two. Bitcoin clearly has the ability to change by 10%+ or more within hours. That's apples to durians in comparison.

            Worth noting that with bank transfers, the delay is built in to help mitigate fraud, unlike bitcoin's delay which is a bug not a feature. Banks could process the transfer almost immediately if they wanted to, bitcoin effectively cannot.

            Which, by the way, is still within the same kind of margin that some central authority money transfers end up costing.

            Not even close, though I'm not sure if that's a reference to transa

    • by Anonymous Coward

      The thing about real world currency trading is that you can use foreign currencies to buy stuff. If you bought a bunch of Yen you can buy stuff from Japan or go there and spend it, even if it drops in value.

      That's not true with Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies. They have no value/use period other than pure speculation. It could all drop to almost nothing like BitConnect did.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        "they have no value/use period other than pure speculation".

        wow. i can't believe that on a site supposedly frequented by programmers and tech savvy people, i keep seeing this ignorant statement.

        The book is called Mastering Bitcoin, second edition, by Andreas Antonopoulos.

        when you're done reading it, you will stop being the AC who posts here about how useless it is. you will stop being frustrated by the "bubble" you perceive. you will stop envying the people who've made money from investing.

        you'll be fasc

        • eventually you will become a programmer of the blockchain. and then you will be empowered. and then you will innovate and invent new things

          The blockchain and bitcoin are two very different things. Blockchain technology is highly likely to be part of our future. Bitcoin maybe not, it could easily be displaced some other coin with better security and better features. Bitcoin has various technical flaws, some make it insecure (ASIC mining), some make it impractical to use (fees). For example bitcoin is built on the assumption that miner cartels and governments can not manipulate it due to distributed mining (blockchain updates), ordinary people m

          • On the nose.

            I have been convinced for a long while that blockchain technology is important. What the last few weeks has convinced me is that Bitcoin itself is the walking dead. Because now that there is enough limelight to go around that some shines on its competitors, the low switching costs will mean Bitcoin will have to compete on its technical merit over the long haul. It cannot survive on the vacuous "gold standard of cryptocurrency" hype forever.

            While we do not know exactly how "coin" will fit into

            • It has already started, in my opinion.

              Without wanting to go into a discussion on technical merits, I see that many exchanges have started trading against Ethereum as well as bitcoin. Bitcoin transfers are also faster than bitcoin transfers, and MUCH cheaper. That alone will have a big influence because in the crypto community many people have started using ETH for storing value, making transfers and trading.

              One day, people will wake up and figure out that there is nothing that bitcoin does that another coin

        • It has no value other than speculation. It's a fiat currency with no backing from anyone. There is no government or other organization saying "no matter what happens to the currency, we'll honor it for X value." It's just a string of bits of computer code and mass stupidity. The fact that there's a lot of stupid greedy people propping it up is the only reason this is happening. Mass stupidity is still stupidity.

        • Thanks, Andreas! What's your next book going to be about?

  • Obviously a short-sighted bunch.
  • Plenty of places where you can short hedge if the fiat value means anything.

  • https://www.coindesk.com/the-f... [coindesk.com]

    "We wanted to do a blockchain technology-related ETF, so not another bitcoin fund but something that takes advantage of the underlying ecosystem. So we developed a methodology in-house which measures seven quantitative factors and we run those factors on a universe of publicly traded [data]."

    I trust them, they have quantified a universe after all.

  • by scatbomb ( 1099255 )

    bitcoin goes up

    slashdot: bitcoin is a bubble this proves it!

    bitcoin goes down

    slashdot: the bubble popped, this proves it!

    bitcoin goes up after going down

    slashdot: bitcoin is too volatile, must be worthless!

    • by tepples ( 727027 )

      bitcoin exchange rate to USD/EUR/JPY stays within 10 percent over a 12 month window

      slashdot: bitcoin has arrived. who'd've thought?

      Good luck getting that to happen though.

    • Yes, actually, being this volatile makes Bitcoin worthless as a currency. One of the functions of money is to be a stable store of value. So far, Bitcoin has been extremely volatile, and unfortunately the signs of stabilization which had begun to emerge are now a distant memory. For my purposes Bitcoin is pretty literally valueless. I can't buy anything with it, and I can't eat it.

      What Bitcoin really is, at the moment, is a speculation market. It has small odds of ever becoming a real currency, and it's bar

      • Will not age well.

        • Beg pardon?

          • People have been arguing the same point for several years now about volatity. It didn't stop it from gaining ground then, so it probably won't affect it now. Your prediction will probably be proven wrong, and therefore not age well.

            • Are you trying to demonstrate my point? You may be confusing "rising in value" with "gaining ground". Bitcoin's volatility will continue to be useful for fleecing speculators for some while I'm sure, but it does not currently fulfill all the functions of money, and whatever opinion you may have of volatility, it is absolutely something which keeps merchants and retailers away. The merchants who have tried to accept it have been forced to cease doing so. This highly-public recent surge as much as anything el

              • Wait, so the reason that bitcoin will fail is because it's volatile, and we should look to other cryptos with a more grand future? Hmm... where are these very stable cryptos you are talking about?

                • Bitcoin is already a failure, you just don't understand what people mean when they talk about functions of money. Stability in a cryptocurrency is going to be achieved by a frictionless exchange and a very-high-volume transaction network, which Bitcoin is not interested in implementing. Some blockchain coin will get there eventually.

                  Now, perhaps you can find something to do other than inane virtue signaling. It's quite dull.

                  • Oh, I see. You can't defend your original reason for your conclusion, so now you come up with new ones. You had trouble coloring within the lines when you were a child, yes?

                    • No, you're just confused about what is being said and inventing strawman arguments.

                    • From your own words:

                      > Yes, actually, being this volatile makes Bitcoin worthless as a currency.
                      and
                      > There are blockchain technologies with a grand future, and Bitcoin is not one of them.

                      If being volatile makes a cryptocurrency worthless, then why would other cryptocurrencies have a grand future, unless they are not volatile?

                      Since you can't point to me any cryptocurrencies that aren't volatile, then according to your own logic, they must all be worthless. Hence, there cannot be any cryptocurrency with

                    • Please, go on. I'm all ears. Where did I go wrong?

  • and doesn't match with reality

If I have seen farther than others, it is because I was standing on the shoulders of giants. -- Isaac Newton

Working...