The emerging crypto-ransomware industry has received a fresh shot in the arm after Tox, an ultra-simple virus construction kit, exploded on the dark web last month.
Tox allows would-be cybercriminals to develop their own malware via a basic web interface accessible through the anonymous Tor network. It generates viruses disguised as Windows screensavers that encrypt the victims’ files when executed.
The target is then asked to pay a ransom in Bitcoin, of which a 20 per cent share is returned to Tox’s developer, for their files to be decrypted.
First reported by McAfee on May 23rd, Tox racked up over 1,000 users and 1,000 infections within a week of launch. Its developer has since offered to sell the service, claiming that its reception has been “too hot for me to handle”.
The incident demonstrates the growing popularity of crypto-ransomware among cybercriminals, as it allows them to extort their victims directly and has relatively few data recovery workarounds.
According to Symantec, attacks of this type increased by 4,000 per cent in 2014 alone.
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