We observe transactions but we do not know who is behind them

The Bitcoin Virtual Currency changes the economics of crime by providing encrypted fraud, an almost anonymous payment system independent of any central bank. The victim of ransomware – a malicious software that encrypts files and requires payment for their unlocking – receives a unique account affected by bitcoins. After getting some ransoms, some gangs pour bitcoins into the main wallet. Transaction monitoring, and all bitcoin are public, lets you see how the gigantic amounts of cybercriminals gain access.

“We are seeing some of these portfolios and we see millions of bitcoins worth millions. Looking at such huge untaxed amounts, I wonder if there are any cybercriminal unicorns, “says Mikko Hyppönen, F-Secure Research Director.

Unicorn is a term used in economics, which means a private technology company valued at more than one billion dollars, Uber, AirBNB or Spotify. For cybergangs the logic of action is similar, but there are differences such as lack of investors, administration and supervision.

Illegal business is profitable enough that some gangs provide customer service comparable to that of start-ups: cyberbots have their own site, FAQs, and even consultants.

Cybergang business model

Can the cyber-business model be compared to start-ups? Probably not. It is difficult to imagine selling cyber criminal business and finding investors. This would not be a problem in a Uber-like start-up, after which the queue is set up. Gangas ransomware, however, have to constantly look for ways to exchange earned bitcoins into cash.

“Hackers buy prepaid cards and sell them for example on Ebay,” says Mikko Hyppönen. Many gangs feast money in online casinos, but it is more complicated. Even if two gang members set up a game between them so that one of them loses all the money, then when the big sums count, the casino may consider acting suspicious and blocking the payout. That’s why gangs have started to use bots that play realistically, but they still lose – though not so clearly “- adds Mikko Hyppönen.

Prosecution of criminals

Law enforcement agencies are aware of the temptation of earning ransomware. Only in 2015, the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center received “2,243 ransomware fraud complaints with a loss of more than $ 1.6 million”.

One example may be a loud attack on a Presbyterian medical center in Hollywood, which to recover their files paid a 40 bucks worth of ransoms worth $ 17,000.

“Officially, the FBI does not advise whether to pay a ransom or not,” said Sean Sullivan, F-Secure’s security advisor. “If the victims did not take proper precautions, then in many cases paying the ransom seems the only alternative to recovering files.”

Steam Machines will be the least profitable hardware

The Steam Machines project was supposed to be an attempt to introduce PCs to our showrooms. However, this may not be a good attempt, as industry insiders suggest that you can not earn much on this hardware.

PCs have for years been trying to compete with consoles in the entertainment field, trying to take over the video game market. The Steam Machine was meant to be a combination of the features of both devices, so to provide PC functionality with console comfort and the ability to play with the controller in the palm of your hand while sitting on a comfortable couch.

After presenting pricing models of individual manufacturers enthusiasm fell heavily when it turned out that the cheapest model Steam Machine cost over $ 700, while the most expensive one has to pay over $ 2,000. This is the amount you can buy a heavily developed gaming computer with no restrictions on the Steam OS Linux based Steam Steam operating system.

It is no wonder that the last days of Steam Machines seemed to be forgotten, especially as the companies involved in the production of these devices now claim that the profits from this market will not be too great. For example, Frank Azor, Alienware’s chief manager, admitted that this is his least profitable venture.

Even worse, some other companies from almost 13 involved in the idea, who have agreed to cooperate mainly because it is a venture of Valve. Now it seems that they can get a great deal on it, especially since the multitude of available configurations can make consumers have trouble making a specific choice.