DDoS Attacks These Days Come With Demands for Monero Payments

March 7, 2018         By: Steven Anderson

A distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack grinds services to a halt and generally give a lot of people, from end users to security staff, a bad day where one may not have been previously. Now, however, the word is that DDoS users are starting to throw a new twist onto their attacks: demands for the Monero cryptocurrency.

Back in late January, we first heard that criminals were starting to ditch bitcoin due to its lack of stability and its slow processing speed. Word from Akamai, the internet services company, suggests that a new favorite may be coming to the fore among those who use DDoS attacks: Monero.

Contained within some DDoS attacks Akamai noted was a clear demand for “50 XMR,” or 50 Monero coin units. That’s $18,422.70 as of this writing, and has been reasonably stable—at least as cryptocurrencies go—for much of the last few months.

DDoS attacks have come with ransom demands before, though usually, the demands are sent separately as part of an email or the like later on. This, meanwhile, contains both the attack and the means to stop the attack all in one; while ransom demands sent by email could be stopped by spam blockers in email, building the note directly into the DDoS code ensures it will be seen when it’s analyzed by security staff.

It’s an illustration of an old point: even as we work to make security protect against all known threats, there are new threats emerging routinely as criminals look for new ways to achieve their ends. While we can’t protect against everything that may come along—the newer methods are especially difficult to protect against as no one’s yet considered a means to protect against them—we can do what’s available to us in order to protect our systems. Maintain offline storage so that no system can be the fulcrum of a ransomware target. Practice good security hygiene with strong passwords.

While this likely sounds like tired advice, it remains as vital as ever. The more we can do to prevent such attacks, the less we’ll see demands for bitcoin, Monero, or any other cryptocurrency in such a fashion.