Italian council workers forced to pay 400 euro TorrentLocker ransom

It's a stick up, software style

As if the Italian economy isn't in a bad enough state, organisations in the country have been plagued by a spate of attacks by the unpleasant TorrentLocker ransomware, with at least one local government office being forced to pay 'i criminali' hundreds of euros to get back critical data.

According to Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera and the Italian security consultancy, Digital Forensics Bureau called into help with the attacks on 14 October, TorrentLocker has cut a swathe through Italian business in recent weeks, infecting "dozens" thanks to ineffective antivirus software and nave user behaviour.

In the town council of Bussoleno near Turin, things got a bit more desperate. Rather than report the outbreak and wait for a ransom payment to be sanctioned by head office, the employees decided to chip in to meet it themselves before the price increased from the roughly 400 euros (roughly 1.4 Bitcoins) being demanded.

The latest campaign appears to have netted good money for the criminals, with a Digital Forensics Bureau analysis of Bitcoin wallets finding that hundreds of victims have paid the criminals to the tune of around 100,000 euros within a matter of weeks.

When Techworld checked the blockchains mentioned as being connected to the campaign, these showed that ransom payments started on 17 September and have continued up to 28 October.

The cause of the rapid spread appears to be TorrentLocker's new, worm-like ability to spread by mailing a booby-trapped attachment to contacts it finds in the address book on infected computers. This is unusual for ransomware which has hitherto avoided such obvious tactics for fear if bringing itself to the attention of antivirus companies before enough ransoms have been paid.

TorrentLocker first emerged in Australia in August as one of a small number of copycat ransom attacks inspired by the vast success of the now defunct CryptoLocker malware a year ago. Other forms of this type of attack include CryptoDefense and the current market leader, CryptoWall.

About a month later, its creators fixed a flaw that made it easier to recover the key used to encrypt files, something that researchers unfortunately made public enough for the criminals to fix the bug in later versions. A major part of its behaviour appears to be to target countries one by one in the hope of exploiting the element of surprise. By October, it was simply Italy's turn.

Bizarrely, the software uses the CryptoLocker brand when demanding money, despite not apparently being connected to it.

Join the CSO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Digital Forensics Bureausecurity

More about

Show Comments

Featured Whitepapers

Editor's Recommendations

Solution Centres

Stories by John E. Dunn

Latest Videos

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: The Human Factor - Your people are your biggest security weakness

    ​Speakers: David Lacey, Researcher and former CISO Royal Mail David Turner - Global Risk Management Expert Mark Guntrip - Group Manager, Email Protection, Proofpoint

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Current ransomware defences are failing – but machine learning can drive a more proactive solution

    Speakers • Ty Miller, Director, Threat Intelligence • Mark Gregory, Leader, Network Engineering Research Group, RMIT • Jeff Lanza, Retired FBI Agent (USA) • Andy Solterbeck, VP Asia Pacific, Cylance • David Braue, CSO MC/Moderator What to expect: ​Hear from industry experts on the local and global ransomware threat landscape. Explore a new approach to dealing with ransomware using machine-learning techniques and by thinking about the problem in a fundamentally different way. Apply techniques for gathering insight into ransomware behaviour and find out what elements must go into a truly effective ransomware defence. Get a first-hand look at how ransomware actually works in practice, and how machine-learning techniques can pick up on its activities long before your employees do.

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Get real about metadata to avoid a false sense of security

    Speakers: • Anthony Caruana – CSO MC and moderator • Ian Farquhar, Worldwide Virtual Security Team Lead, Gigamon • John Lindsay, Former CTO, iiNet • Skeeve Stevens, Futurist, Future Sumo • David Vaile - Vice chair of APF, Co-Convenor of the Cyberspace Law And Policy Community, UNSW Law Faculty This webinar covers: - A 101 on metadata - what it is and how to use it - Insight into a typical attack, what happens and what we would find when looking into the metadata - How to collect metadata, use this to detect attacks and get greater insight into how you can use this to protect your organisation - Learn how much raw data and metadata to retain and how long for - Get a reality check on how you're using your metadata and if this is enough to secure your organisation

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them Featuring: • John Baird, Director of Global Technology Production, Deutsche Bank • Samantha Macleod, GM Cyber Security, ME Bank • Sherrod DeGrippo, Director of Emerging Threats, Proofpoint (USA)

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    IDG Live Webinar:The right collaboration strategy will help your business take flight

    Speakers - Mike Harris, Engineering Services Manager, Jetstar - Christopher Johnson, IT Director APAC, 20th Century Fox - Brent Maxwell, Director of Information Systems, THE ICONIC - IDG MC/Moderator Anthony Caruana

    Play Video

More videos

Blog Posts