Cyber criminals need to blackmail and redeem bitcoin.

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Cyber criminals need to blackmail and redeem bitcoin.

Hackers have been targeting users and demanding that bitcoins be paid as ransom. Since not all victims have used bitcoin before, they have been sending the victim’s bitcoin tutorial.

David green, host:

If you’re the victim of a global cyber attack, in recent days more than 150 countries have seen this, and you’ll see a message on your computer. It requires you to pay hundreds of dollars to access your files. To pay, you must use bitcoin. You want to know what that is? You’re not alone.

(TV show, “COLBERT report”)

STEPHEN COLBERT: now, if you don’t know what bitcoin is, you want to buy some bitcoin?

RACHEL MARTIN, host:

That was in 2013, when Stephen colbert, bitcoin, an anonymous online currency, had just become popular. Many people don’t really know what it is, and four years later, many people still don’t.

SEAN SULLIVAN: I’m a computer nerd, and I think bitcoin is still a bit of a mess, so it’s actually the most difficult part for most people.

Edward green: this computer nerd is Sean Sullivan of f-secure, a network security company in Helsinki. Hackers use bitcoin because it is anonymous and hard to track, but actually paying a ransom in bitcoin can be daunting.

You have to create a virtual wallet. Then you must link it to your bank account or credit card. Then you have to find the actual place to buy the bitcoins.

Martin: so, of course, hackers want their money, so they want it to be easier. They actually provide customer support. They link you to the bitcoin tutorial. They even have chat rooms where members of the hacker group can help you.

Sullivan’s company wants to test the effectiveness of customer service, so they let a person who is not a computer expert download five viruses and let the hackers help pay the ransom.

SULLIVAN: we get very personalized support through email — some form of personal adoption, some people completely ignore us. We can figure that out. We can figure that out. If we don’t, they don’t care.

Edward green: the hackers know very well. Apparently, they are willing to extend the ransom period. ‘when the customer service is good, I mean, it’s very good,’ Mr. Sullivan says.

SULLIVAN: there are even some rumors that the remote control actually controls the victim’s computer to help them run the decrypting tool because the victim cannot run the tool.

Edward green: some hackers are even willing to take part in bitcoin bargaining to reduce the ransom.

Martin: yes, I’m pretty sure my cable company can get some instructions from these people.

Edward green: oh.

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