A well-known scam is continually running rampant throughout the ransomware world being hailed as the first infection to accept cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum for payment for a ransom in the new feeding frenzy of ransomware threats.
Thanatos ransomware, known to be a real menace from last year leaving users with no practical way to restore a computer that has been infected. Thanatos is like a Homing Pigeon, it actually heads back to a URL to keep track of its victims. This enables the authors of the malware to monitor a long list of infected victims.
Greek Mythology describes Thanatos as the son of Nyx (Night) and Erebos (Darkness) and twinned with Hypnos (Sleep). Thanatos, in its new modern-day digital form, is a culmination of the DNA of the past myths and now very much a reality in the world of cyber extortion. The Greek 'Thanatos' would be very proud of his new incarnation, one that has taken the virtual face of evil and all that is doom and gloom for today's computer users.
Data recovery, forget it, this new family of ransomware makes data recovery virtually impossible due to the way it encrypts files but does not save them. It uses a unique key for each of the files it infects. To get those encrypted files back, one must hope to have a backup of their system to restore the files.
The demand from Thanatos is $200 for each file, but users are not guaranteed recovery as the cybercrooks get their victims to pay the ransom with little or no chance of getting their valuable files back. In retrospect, these actions are common among recent ransomware attacks.
To make matters worse, cryptocurrency is now being thrown into the mix of ransomware attacks. Thanatos is one of the more notable threats to leverage cryptocurrency in a way to collect a ransom payment. Gone are the days of cybercrooks getting caught transferring monies during the extortion tactics of popular malware threats. Today, ransomware like Thanatos is making outlandish demands for ransomware victims to pay dearly through untraceable cryptocurrencies.
Cryptocurrency is the new form of money extortion payment for cybercrooks
With the ever-increasing demand of a device dependent society, we're all mostly reliant on our computers to store all our converged data from multiple sources, for example, contacts, emails, pictures, documents, and personal correspondence. There is a bounty of information contained in these files for enterprising cybercriminals who are waiting to steal our data and get into our lives to wreak total havoc and profit from their ill-gotten gains, ones that now include cryptocurrency.
CNN recently reported that multiple ransomware schemes netted $25m over a 24 Month period. With such a cash-cow that ransomware has turned into, it's no wonder that Thanatos is one of countless ransomware threats leveraged in ways to extort money from victimized computer users.
Research shows that in 2017 alone, 7 out of 10 payloads of malware was in fact ransomware. Among them, threats like Thanatos, Ryuk, Adame, and Phobos ransomware threats are at the top of the list of the most prevalent threats of today and beyond. Even so, the year 2020 is predicted to see surges of ransomware, potentially on levels that we have never seen before. Within the mix of ransomware, we're just now seeing cases of threats using cryptocurrency as a means of paying the ransom demands, with Thanatos.
Protection from ransomware threats like Thanatos requires special attention
One would ask, how do we shield ourselves from ransomware attacks such as those guided by the perpetrators behind Thanatos so we don't have to think about breaking into cryptocurrency piggy banks?
First, we look at trends and the way people are continuously adapting to technology. Everyday devices are getting smarter and smarter as our culture moves rapidly towards the IoT (Internet of Things). For example, we store data on our mobile phone, smartwatches, even our fridges are 'smart'. Bottom line, all of this personal and confidential data ends up backed up on our PC's, which are susceptible to malware attacks.
Simply discontinuing the use of your devices isn't the answer. However, paying special attention to the current malware trends and applying the best resources to protect your devices is one of the primary steps to take to combat threats like Thanatos and like ransomware.
In any given day, there are literally billions of devices collecting our information, all susceptible to being hacked. Moreover, hackers are relentless in their approach to attacking computers and tech devices where they seek opportunities to proliferate threats like Thanatos through sophisticated methods. Fundamentally, hackers have created a feeding frenzy in the world of ransomware where it looks to be the most popular type of malware used to leverage computers and users so that they grant cybercrooks with handsome paydays. Only this time, thanks to Thanatos, the paydays are looking even better due to cryptocurrency being the choice for money extortion.
Cryptomining malware and ransomware is a booming business for cybercrooks, and unscrupulous hackers are always looking for weaknesses in our personal efforts to protect ourselves.
No matter the circumstance, always keep your antimalware or antivirus software current and always backup your data. You never know when Thanatos or any other ransomware threat is ready to pounce and make its demand for you to pay hundreds to thousands of dollars worth of Bitcoins, Ethereum, or any other cryptocurrency to get your encrypted files back.