Cybersecurity research company McAfee has raised an alarm about a new strain of ransomware that targets gamers by hiding in popular downloadable games on peer-to-peer networks, demanding a ransom fee of 10 Dash in exchange for decryption after attacking their computer files.
Named “Anatova”, the ransomware strain is considered to be especially dangerous because it piggybacks on the popularity of games and applications on networks like Bittorrent to gain access to a large pool of victims, at which point it sets about aggressively encrypting as many files as it can get to, often rendering the affected computers unusable.
It features a modular design and it uses sophisticated optimization techniques for enhanced file encryption as well as anti-analysis technology that effectively makes encrypted files permanently unreadable without specific decryption keys that only the programmer can provide. When the Dash ransom is paid, victims are then given a text file with instructions for decryption.
Coingape has previously reported about the growing popularity of cryptocurrencies with cybercriminals who use ransomware and crypto mining malware to harvest large sums, typically in Monero from victims. Such patterns only look set to grow because cryptocurrencies offer cybercriminals a higher level of anonymity compared to fiat and they are also easy to use from a criminal point of view.
Typically, ransomware demands are for Monero and Zcash, because both are specifically designed to offer high levels of transaction privacy through transaction mixing and zero knowledge encryption respectively. Some older ransomware also asks for bitcoin also these have waned in popularity as bitcoin becomes increasingly less anonymous.
This demand for Dash is something of a first, and it may not be the last because Dash offers a special functionality called PrivateSend, which makes transaction mixing possible in a way not dissimilar to Monero. In other words, Dash offers cybercriminals the secrecy that they can get from Monero, which means that the world may not have heard the last of Dash ransomware.
UdjinM6, the anonymized personality who serves as the Dash Core Group lead developer recommends that computer users should avoid clicking on suspicious links, back up their data regularly and use hardware wallets to store their crypto in order to avoid becoming victims of the ransomware.
Quoted on the Dash News website he said:
“This kind of stuff is not really connected to the crypto space. Crypto has just turned out to be the easiest way to demand payments like this, probably because crypto is easier to transact with in general. I also highly doubt that you’ll get your files decrypted if you pay ransom, most likely these guys will just disappear. I’d rather consider all infected data lost forever.”
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I am a busy writer and journalist with an interest in tech and finance. When I’m not writing and traveling around Africa, you can sometimes catch me in the writers room at ‘The Other News’, Nigeria’s weekly answer to ‘The Daily Show’ with nearly 2 million viewers. My work on ‘The Other News’ has been featured in the New Yorker Magazine. I have been nominated by the US State Department to take part in the 2019 Edward R. Murrow Program for journalists under the International Visitors Leadership Program.