Ransomware Creators get Community Service

Thursday, July 26, 2018 @ 05:07 PM gHale

Two Dutch men got 240 hours of community service for their part in creating and using the CoinVault ransomware, a Dutch court ruled.

The suspects are brothers Melvin, 25, and Dennis, 21, van den B. Both were arrested in 2015 and accused of creating CoinVault, one of the first pieces of file-encrypting ransomware, and its successor, Bitcryptor.

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Their trial took place July 12 and they have now been sentenced to 240 hours of community service, which is the maximum time of community service someone can serve. They have also been ordered to pay restitution to some of their victims.

Prosecutors asked for a three-month prison sentence and nine months suspended in addition to community service. However, the sentence has been reduced because the brothers cooperated with the police, including to help victims recover their files, and have not committed any other crimes since their arrest in 2015.

The suspects were accused of hacking into computers and extorting 1,295 individuals.

Kaspersky Lab, which investigated CoinVault in 2014 when the threat emerged and helped police identify the hackers, noted there were actually 14,000 victims worldwide.

“Cybercrime doesn’t pay,” said Kaspersky Lab researcher Jornt van der Wiel, commenting on the case. “If you become a victim of criminal or ransomware activity, keep your files and report the incident to the police. Never pay the ransom and be confident that not only will the decryption tool appear, but also that justice will triumph in regards to the criminals.”

A decryption tool for the CoinVault ransomware is available from the NoMoreRansom initiative, but some victims have not been able to recover their files due to some implementation errors that prevented recovery even with the decryption keys.

The cybercriminals were identified by Dutch police after Kaspersky researchers found a first name in the malware code. According to some reports, the CoinVault authors also failed to hide their real IP address on at least one occasion.

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