Dutch Authorities Slap Bitcoin Ransomware Creators with 240 Hours Community Service
Two malicious coders who orchestrated a ransomware attack on 1,259 computers demanding bitcoin back in 2015 have finally been sentenced to 240 hours of community service by a Rotterdam court, according to a local news source NU on July 26, 2018.
Community Service not Jail Term
Two brothers, Melvin and Dennis van de B. have been ordered by a Rotterdam court to carry out 240 hours community service. The punishment is a result of hijacking more than a thousand computers in Europe, the U.S., and the U.K. between 2014 and 2015 and demanding for a cryptocurrency ransom.
Per NU, the cyberpunks aged 21 and 25, infected victims’ personal computers with the CoinVault hostess malware and demanded one bitcoin at the time. Although the price of bitcoin was just around several hundred euros at the time, the criminals were able to make 10,000 euros each as several victims paid the requested ransom.
Kaspersky to the Rescue
According to sources close to the matter, law enforcement agents wouldn’t have been able to get hold of the hackers if not for the help of cybersecurity firm, Kaspersky. Kaspersky researchers were able to get the personal details of the pirates through the “source code on the computer of one of the suspects.”
Armed with the names of one of the bad actors, the “Team High Tech Crime” of the Dutch police were able to link the names to the IP address of the criminals and arrested them in 2015.
Once the criminals were apprehended, Kaspersky created nearly 15,000 digital keys to help some victims who hadn’t paid the ransom to regain access to files on their computers.
It’s worthy of note that the Dutch Public Prosecution Service (OM) had earlier ruled that the hackers would be sentenced to one year in prison along with the 240 hours of community service mentioned above.
However, after discovering that the men had no previous criminal records, coupled with the fact that they fully cooperated with investigators since their arrest in 2015, the Dutch prosecutors decided to waive the jail term, but have ordered the fraudsters to compensate victims and complete the 240 community service hours.
While there have been fewer cases of ransomware attacks since the WannaCry ransomware menace held thousands of computers hostage in May 2017, the Dutch court’s decision to give the perpetrators of this crime a minimal punishment may as well serve as an encouragement to other criminals.
In related news, BTCManager informed that cybersecurity giants, McAfee had released a report suggesting that the rate of cryptojacking had increased by 629 percent in 2018 as compared to last year.