Cybercriminals have struck Telecom Argentina S.A with a major ransomware attack and attackers demand $7.5 million in privacy-oriented crypto, Monero. According to a Spanish language website elperiodista.com that cites unknown workers, the attack that started on July 15 paralyzed the I.T system of the company.
The employees also notified the website that the company had requested that its employees do not open a file or e-mail address. In addition, the July 18 tweet from @krugermacro suggests that cyber attackers are threatening more damage if their demands are not met. According to reports, the attackers want their demands to be met by July 21, regardless of which ransomware demands will double while the firm’s system remains incapacitated.
— Alex Krüger (@krugermacro) July 19, 2020
Ransomware attacks and crypto scams on the rise
The Telecom Argentina S.A ransomware attack follows last week’s high-profile Twitter hack connected to a bitcoin giveaway scam. Nevertheless, Elliptic, a blockchain analytics firm, says a portion of the Bitcoin linked to the massive Twitter hack was mixed with a Coinjoin mixing software called Wasabi.
On the contrary, Monero is privacy-oriented crypto that has been written off in some crypto exchanges for the same reason. Regardless, some industry experts have questioned the attackers’ decision to demand such a tremendous amount of money in Monero. The founder and CEO of Mana Security, Tim Ismilyaev, suggested that Monero has inferior liquidity on crypto exchanges; hence it is unsuitable for demanding such a huge amount.
Another reason behind the hefty Monero demands?
Additionally, Ismilyaev noted that liquidity is the sole reason why most ransomware attackers demand payment in bitcoin. He also states that “it’s especially strange to ask for $7.5M in monero – it’s about 13% of daily trading volumes; and would significantly impact the price.”
According to the Mana Security CEO, there could be another purpose behind the ransomware attack. “I think attackers don’t expect Telecom Argentina to pay such a big check, but they probably already have Monero and want to sell it for a better price after the price pump,” Ismilyvaev suggested.