HACKING

Teen Hacker Selling Ransomware Used to Hold 1,000 Computers Hostage

The developer of the infamous "ransomware" Tox is getting out of the digital-hostage game a week after launching

Jun 08, 2015 at 11:16 AM ET

The teen hacker who created a malware program used to hold more than 1,000 computers hostage over the past week is selling his destructive code to the highest bidder because it’s become so popular.

“The situation is also getting too hot for me to handle, and (sorry to ruin your expectations) I’m not a team of hard core hackers. I’m just a teenager student,” the teen, who goes by the handle Tox, wrote in a post on Pastebin.

In the note, Tox explains that he was not ready for his program to take off the way it did. After little more than a week, Tox had more than 1,000 users and infections.

“The number of the users started growing. From 20 to 50, from 50 to 100, it was doubling every day,” Tox says in the post. “Plan A was to stay quiet and hidden. Well, I think I screwed up.”

If nobody buys the ransomware, Tox pledged to release the decryption keys “and victims will have their files automatically unlocked.”

Tox’s ransomware disguises “a screensaver (.scr) file with the icon of a Word document. Once circulated and opened, the malware encrypts the affected machine and demands a ransom,” as explained by ThreatPost’s Chris Brook. Hacking using the ransomware to infect someone’s computer would hand over 30 percent of the ransom to Tox as payment for use of the code.

Earlier this week, another ransomware developer pulled the plug on his digital hostage operation called Locker.

“I am the author of the Locker ransomware and I’m very sorry about that has happened. It was never my intention to release this,” the hacker wrote on Tuesday, a little more than a week after launching his cyber attacks.

Stu Sjouwerman at KnownBe4 suggested that the Locker hacker had either made enough money or was concerned he would be caught by law enforcement.

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