Ransomware Victim Seeks IDs of Attackers

     SAN FRANCISCO (CN) — An online business victimized by a ransomware attack asked a federal judge to help it identify the owners of 211 email addresses.
     Ransomware, in which hackers shut down a website and demand money to release it, is a serious and mushrooming problem in the United States.
     More than $209 million in ransomware payments have been paid in the United States in the first three months of 2016, compared to just $25 million in all of 2015, according to the FBI.
     Hackers now are attacking smartphones as well as business and home computers.
     “We’re seeing an increasing number of incidents involving so-called ‘drive-by’ ransomware, where users can infect their computers simply by clicking on a compromised website, often lured there by a deceptive e-mail or pop-up window,” the FBI says on its website.
     A California Senate committee on Tuesday approved a bill that makes infecting a computer with ransomware the criminal equivalent of extortion.
     “Basically, this is an electronic stickup,” said state Sen. Bob Hertzberg, D-Los Angeles, chairman of the Committee on Governance and Finance. “We need to make clear that intentionally using ransomware is a very serious crime that will not be tolerated and will be prosecuted, just like any stickup. That’s what this legislation does.”
     Also Tuesday, Ebates Inc. sued the John Doe owners of three email addresses in Federal Court, for a distributed denial of service attack that shut it down at 8 a.m. on April 1.
     Two hours later, the company started receiving ransom demands by email demanding payments through bitcoin. The emails, delivered from more than 100 addresses, said the ransom demand would increase every day as the company lost customers and profits.
     Ebates says it refused to pay. It got website up and running after about six hours and fully restored after 10 hours, but says it lost more than $100,000 in that time.
     It seeks punitive damages for computer fraud, conversion and trespass.
     Ebates.com is a shopping website that offers cash rebates and other types of coupons and rebates to members.
     “Despite its efforts, Ebates is unable to identify the source of this attack and brings this action to both uncover the identities of the attackers and to prosecute claims against them for the harm they caused to Ebates,” the complaint states.
     Ebates is represented by Thomas Christopher, who did not reply immediately to requests for comment.

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