Ransomware is a type of malware that encrypts the files of infected hosts and demands payment, often in a cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin. In this talk, we present a measurement framework that we used to perform a large-scale, two-year, end-to-end measurement of ransomware payments, victims and operators.
By combining an array of data sources, including ransomware binaries, seed ransom payments, victim telemetry from infections, and a large database of Bitcoin addresses annotated with their owners, we sketch the outlines of this burgeoning ecosystem and associated third-party infrastructure. In particular, we trace the financial transactions, from the moment victims acquire bitcoins, to when ransomware operators cash them out.
While our study focuses on ransomware, our methods are potentially applicable to other cybercriminal operations that have similarly adopted Bitcoin as their payment channel.