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Author Topic: So I went down to the bitcoin ATM today...  (Read 13248 times)
corebob
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November 11, 2013, 12:17:21 PM
 #21

There is a 0% chance that you can recover any files from her PC without paying - the people that code these viruses do know their stuff and crypto.

Even if you pay, there is a chance that you won't get any decryption key. After all, customer service is not exactly what these guys are up to, as most of their customers don't want to deal with them in the future again.

You help her best by getting her a backup software, reformatting the PC and showing her how to do backups in the future. If you want to, you can try to pay the criminals instead, though I have my doubts that it'll work. Once Bitcoin ATMs become more widespread, these kinds of "data kidnapping" will also spread out, they already accept other digital payments like paysafecard for quite some time now.
The fact that bitcoins is still hard to use for the average person probably saved her some money. If the ransom was in dollars, the money would be lost already, and the kidnapper would be asking for more as we speak.
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November 11, 2013, 12:20:30 PM
 #22

Even if you pay, there is a chance that you won't get any decryption key. After all, customer service is not exactly what these guys are up to, as most of their customers don't want to deal with them in the future again.

Word on the street is that the dudes keep their word for better or worst. You pay up on time, your files get decrypted. You pay late by 1 minute or don't pay at all and you're screwed, it just uninstalls itself and leaves you with a bunch of encrypted files.

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November 11, 2013, 12:37:05 PM
 #23

Here's my question. Does the trojan securely wipe and delete the original files? Or can they be "undeleted" if the drive was not full? Although I think the bad guys would have thought of securely erasing the original files after they have been encrypted so the ransom must be paid.
They likely encrypt in place, so unless your HDD is less than 50% full and ALL writes are only in completely new sectors, you will loose data. Also they have all the time in the world to slowly encrypt (transparently) your files, then, as soon as the task is done, switch to ransom mode by sending off the key(s) and only displaying the splash page.

I also think that they will likely give back the keys (even though that might cause them some trouble since they need another interaction with the victim) - after all they can re-infect a few months later and get ANOTHER payment, now even from victims that know the process of how to get BTC and pay them.

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November 11, 2013, 03:50:20 PM
 #24

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The fact that bitcoins is still hard to use for the average person probably saved her some money. If the ransom was in dollars, the money would be lost already, and the kidnapper would be asking for more as we speak.

AFAIK, Cryptolocker offers the choice of dollars too (in the form of a MoneyPak) so she could have just gone down to the Walmart and gotten a card.
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November 11, 2013, 04:44:15 PM
 #25

She's a possible victim of Cryptolocker?
I wonder why people invest/buy something, without educating themselves first.

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Peter R
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November 11, 2013, 04:56:11 PM
Last edit: November 11, 2013, 05:54:05 PM by Peter R
 #26

Given the rampant "success" of Cryptolocker, I'm sure we'll see many copycats. Hackers now have serious financial incentive to break into people's systems.

Someone was asking on reddit today whether Bitcoin would force people to take security seriously. Maybe, but Cryptolocker and others like it will really force people to (or pay up). It will probably force a great many people to learn how to buy bitcoins as well, however tragic a method it may be (in truth it is likely to be doing them a favor in a perverse way, as they are more likely to keep some for themselves...it could be what gives them that final push off the fence).

Revolution happens in the strangest ways.

Thanks Zanglebert.  I was waiting for someone to say this--it was the conclusion my father and I came to as we drove home from the ATM.

In a perverse way--and so long as viruses like CryptoLocker stay 'honest' and unlock your files when you pay up--they give people a lesson they won't forget in the importance of computer security *and* they force them to discover this great new thing called bitcoin.  I don't want to understate the frustration and pain this virus has caused, but the old saying "what doesn't kill you only makes you stronger" certainly applies here.  

How did you not realise and tell her that its a virus?!?!?  Huh

She already knew it was a virus.  Like you implied, it's pretty obvious that when your computer says "pay me 1 BTC or I nuke the files" that it's not Mr. Gates on the other end.  I was trying to write in an entertaining way, because explaining every reference gets tiring for both reader and writer.  


In case you didn't get that reference: Mr Gates is short for William Henry "Bill" Gates III , the co-founder and current chairman of Microsoft.  Microsoft is the company that owns the Windows Operating.  The Windows operating system is what the older lady was running when her computer told her that it wanted a bitcoin.  So when I say it wasn't "Mr. Gates on the other end" I am making a reference that obviously this is not normal Windows behaviour and is thus likely the result of something bad that has made its way into her PC.  

See what I mean about getting tiring to explain every reference?

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November 11, 2013, 04:58:27 PM
 #27

It will probably force a great many people to learn how to buy bitcoins as well, however tragic a method it may be (in truth it is likely to be doing them a favor in a perverse way, as they are more likely to keep some for themselves...it could be what gives them that final push off the fence).

Revolution happens in the strangest ways.

No I strongly disagree with this. If anything it will turn them off from Bitcoin and they will always associate it with evil.

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November 11, 2013, 05:12:03 PM
 #28

She's a possible victim of Cryptolocker?
I wonder why people invest/buy something, without educating themselves first.

Yes, it was definitely CryptoLocker or something similar.  I will edit my original post to make this point more explicit.  

Interestingly, the older lady told me that "Russians" were responsible for the virus as though it was a statement of fact.  [I've seen no evidence to suggest where the virus originated.]

The other thing I noticed from this experience:  I could tell she viewed bitcoin as completely independent from the virus.  Bitcoins were "a thing she buys" and the virus was "Russian hackers."  She was a bit hard to get clear facts out of, but she mumbled something about.... some other way to pay.....she tried and it didn't work.....so she wanted to get a bitcoin now.  I am sure she assumed there were bitcoin ATMs all over.

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November 11, 2013, 05:25:46 PM
 #29

Some people just should stop using computers.

Peter R
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November 11, 2013, 05:31:29 PM
 #30

It will probably force a great many people to learn how to buy bitcoins as well, however tragic a method it may be (in truth it is likely to be doing them a favor in a perverse way, as they are more likely to keep some for themselves...it could be what gives them that final push off the fence).

Revolution happens in the strangest ways.

No I strongly disagree with this. If anything it will turn them off from Bitcoin and they will always associate it with evil.

Hmm, well after my experience, I now strongly disagree with this and agree with Zangelbert Smiley  [But before my experience with the older lady I would have agreed with you Abdussamad.]

If she comes away with a negative view of bitcoin, it will be because she couldn't figure out how to use it!  I don't know how to explain this, but I could just tell from talking with her--we talked for at least 5 minutes--that in her mind bitcoin had nothing to do with the virus, it was just a payment option.  She was frustrated by the mechanics of buying bitcoins to unlock her computer, but it her mind it was "the Russian hackers" who were evil.  

Besides the lessons she will learn about computer security, I think her take away will be that there are "these new internet coins" and "the people who use them here in Vancouver are polite and helpful."  

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November 11, 2013, 05:42:28 PM
 #31

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..."the Russian hackers" who were evil...
The Russians, those dirty bastards.
I would expect Sarah Palin to have taken care of them by now!
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November 11, 2013, 06:19:03 PM
 #32

...and lo and behold there is a late-60s lady moping around the RoboCoin.  I was with my Dad (he wanted to learn how to buy BTC)--I start putting 20s in the machine and he starts talking to the older lady.  After I finished with the ATM, my dad says "Peter, maybe you can help this women."

She tells me that she put money in the machine but never got any bitcoins out.

I asked her if she used her phone and she says "no I don't have a 'smart phone,' the machine just gave me this receipt" as she hands me the paper.

I look at the receipt and can immediately see that it is her private key, so I tell her that those are her bitcoins and she needs to load them onto her computer if she wants to spend them.  

She says, "you mean my bitcoins are in this piece of paper?"

Uh oh.....so by now I'm thinking that she really shouldn't be investing in bitcoins without some help from her son or grandson.  I ask "so, are you investing in bitcoins?"

And she says, "I don't even know what bitcoins are but my computer says I have to give it one to get my files back."

and then she gasps:

"and I've been trying for days to buy one!"


Well, I tried my best to help her, but I have my doubts.

Crytolocker strikes again



wow I can't believe this is happening. do you have any idea how much she has lost?
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November 11, 2013, 06:50:28 PM
 #33

There is a 0% chance that you can recover any files from her PC without paying - the people that code these viruses do know their stuff and crypto.

Even if you pay, there is a chance that you won't get any decryption key. After all, customer service is not exactly what these guys are up to, as most of their customers don't want to deal with them in the future again.

You help her best by getting her a backup software, reformatting the PC and showing her how to do backups in the future. If you want to, you can try to pay the criminals instead, though I have my doubts that it'll work. Once Bitcoin ATMs become more widespread, these kinds of "data kidnapping" will also spread out, they already accept other digital payments like paysafecard for quite some time now.

I wouldn't say 0% because at one point everyone thought DES was unbreakable, and it got cracked.  Then, the same thing with AES, and now that can be brute forced with related key impossible differential attack to reduce complexity to like 2^60.  Complexity drops to 10^4 with side channel attacks.  But yeah, right now if you open that .zip file in your e-mail, unless you can stop if before its too late...  Well good luck not paying lol.
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November 11, 2013, 07:17:24 PM
 #34

Those people behind such viruses really make my blood boil, taking advantage of the elderly is something that really makes me angry.  It's no different to cold calling door to door scammers that deliberately target old people, convincing them their house has some serious structural damage and refusing to leave their livingroom until they sign a contract for £10,000 repairs.

They are the scum of the earth as far as I'm concerned.
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November 11, 2013, 07:28:22 PM
 #35

Great, every layperson will associate Bitcoin as the thing they had to pay for to pay off those hackers!

Not good!

I have a feeling those people who hack peoples PCs and get pics of people undressing through their web cam without their knowledge will be using this for extortion. And those creepy guys at computer repair places who save photos off of customers computers they repair. Ugh.


What's next, Somali pirates asking for ransom payments in Bitcoin?
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November 11, 2013, 07:32:38 PM
 #36

Great, every layperson will associate Bitcoin as the thing they had to pay for to pay off those hackers!

Not good!


What's next, Somali pirates asking for ransom payments in Bitcoin?
Just a few years away until this comparison might no longer look so unusual. Lips sealed


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November 11, 2013, 08:03:58 PM
 #37

Wait, so there is bitcoin ATM machines now?
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November 11, 2013, 08:29:28 PM
 #38

Wait, so there is bitcoin ATM machines now?
This is old news. Yes.

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November 11, 2013, 11:37:21 PM
 #39

Great, every layperson will associate Bitcoin as the thing they had to pay for to pay off those hackers!

Not good!

I think it's very good that it was easier for such laypersons to buy Bitcoin than to buy a Moneypak denominated in EUR or USD, but what the fuck do I know...

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November 12, 2013, 01:15:07 AM
 #40

lol what a bs madeup story

funny none the less

This is the well-known cryptolocker virus:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CryptoLocker

I never thought I'd meet a victim, but there she was: about 5' 3", short grey hair, and looking very overwhelmed.  I hope by now she's tried to contact Mitchell Demeter from Bitcoiniacs (owners of the machine) or the guys in the BitCoin Co-op to try to get some more help.  

What I thought was interesting was that a person who had no idea about bitcoin a few days ago, somehow found the ATM, and then just drove on down to Waves to "buy one" without ever realizing the novelty of what they were doing.  

I see that you helped her as much as you could at that moment.

I think you should have also adviced her to buy not just the one bitcoin that she needed for her files but also 2-3 more.

That way this whole "bitcoin-mess" at least would have brought her some profit in 1,2 or 3 years.
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