We bet it’s a glamorous life being hacker. We’ve seen the movies. You bash the keyboard really quickly, say you’re accessing the mainframe and that it runs on Linux so you can find a ‘backdoor’, hold some bad guys to ransom, all the while eating pizza, and then walk off with the cash to a retirement in Brazil surrounded by bikini-clad models. Yeah, it must be brilliant to be a hacker: a real shortcut to the high life.
Only, it turns out, at least in the case of the recent NHS ransomware attack, that that’s not actually true. Who’d have thought the movies weren’t accurate? Not us, that’s for sure.
Because, having masterminded one of the largest ransomware attacks in history, including putting sick and vulnerable patients at risk as it spread to computers in the NHS, it’s been revealed that it’s likely that the hackers have made only $26,000 (£22,000) from their endeavours.
According to analysis by respected security researcher Brian Krebs, they have fallen somewhat short of what was initially predicted to be a billion-dollar enterprise.
A detailed look at the WannaCry ransomware – which made victims pay money in order to regain access to their files, with an initial charge of $300 – enabled security firm Redsocks to find three Bitcoin payment addresses that were ‘hard-coded’ into the malware. With Bitcoin, anyone can view all of the historic transactions tied to an address, meaning that they could see how much the hackers had raked in. And it’s far from impressive, with just 100 payments, totaling just over 15 Bitcoins, roughly $26,000.
There is, of course, a chance that some victims are holding out before paying up – and those payments could increase sharply as the seven day limit for permanent lock-out to their files approaches – so they could make more cash yet.
To be honest, though, it sounds like you’d just be better off trying to smuggle some dinosaur embryos out of a theme park. Just watch out for the Dilophosauruses, OK?