According to computer security company McAfee, NetWalker ransomware virus has become the most successful of its kind, having raised over $ 25 million since March 2020.
The NetWalker virus was first discovered in August last year. According to McAfee experts, from May 1 to July 27, 2020, the group of hackers behind NetWalker received 2,795 BTC (more than $ 25 million).
The company’s report notes that NetWalker is “for rent” – that is, hackers provide a “virus-as-a-service” service. This is also indicated by the fact that the funds received were distributed among several wallets.
Cybersecurity analysts also discovered that NetWalker operators have stopped using old-format Bitcoin addresses and switched to SegWit addresses. This was done in order to reduce fees and speed up transactions.
“NetWalker is a major player in the virus market. It targets large organizations, and is used in attacks against both private and government agencies. It is very difficult to find out the exact amount of funds received by the ransomware, and the estimate of $ 25 million, voiced by McAfee experts, is almost certainly underestimated, ”said Brett Callow, an analyst at Emsisoft cyber threat.
Most of the companies attacked by NetWalker are located in Western Europe and the United States. In early June, this virus infected the computer network of the University of California, San Francisco. The educational institution had to pay the cybercriminals $ 1.14 million in bitcoins.