Hackers claim $16.9 million from Bitcoin (BTC) after ransomware attack

An Italian energy company has been hit by a ransomware attack. The hackers are after millions in ransom money in Bitcoin (BTC).

Hostage software

We are talking about the Enel Group, one of the largest energy groups in Europe. It is an energy company with an annual turnover of more than $73 billion in 2018.

With more than 61 million customers in 40 countries, it ranks 87th in the Fortune Global 500. Bleeping Computer reported this attack last week.

The company’s computers and servers were affected by ransomware called NetWalker. The hackers then shared the screenshots of 5 terabytes (TB) of stolen data. They threatened to publish the first batch of information within a week.

Bleeping Computers also shares a number of screenshots on this subject, in which it can be seen that information in the folders ‚Romania‘, ‚France‘, and ‚Greece‘ has been accessed.

The hackers asked to pay some $16.8 million in exchange. The original ransom was reportedly more than twice as small.

Because Enel Group did not want to pay it at the time, the ‚bid‘ was increased to 1234 Bitcoin (BTC). The energy company is not happy with the recent price increase either. Just a few days ago it was $14 million.

Encrypted data

If the energy company transfers the desired amount, the hackers will send the decryption key. This will give the company access to its own data again. At the moment, these are still encrypted and only the hackers can access them. As the screenshot above shows: „All your files are encrypted“.

In June this year, things already went wrong. Enel’s internal network was then under attack by the ransomware called Snake, also known as EKANS.

The hackers increase the pressure by communicating that the information will be leaked to special leaking websites.


But what is Bitcoin’s position in this story? In the first respect, it does not seem to be very positive news for the cryptomaniac. But that is a little more nuanced.

Bitcoin is a neutral and transparent protocol. It makes no distinction between the participants in the network and there is no central party that can reverse or cancel payments.

On the one hand, that is a disadvantage for a company like Enel Group. Because hackers can also make use of it. On the other hand, it offers opportunities. Bitcoin has acted as the perfect alternative several times over the past decade: in Hong Kong during the protests, around WikiLeaks and also in Turkey when bank accounts were frozen.

Bitcoin works for everyone. So if it works well for hackers, it works well for other people. Just as everyone can use a knife. It can be used to spread a sandwich, or to kill innocent civilians. The knife itself is not the problem, just as Bitcoin is not the problem in this case.

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