Argentina Encounters Bitcoin Ransom Threats, Malware Netwalker Demands $4 Million

A Bitcoin ransomware attack by Netwalker was witnessed by Argentina’s immigration agency, halting border crossing temporarily.

By · Sep 7, 2020 . 6min read

Argentina Bitcoin ransomware threats

Recently, Argentina’s official immigration agency, Dirección Nacional de Migraciones, was hit by a ransomware attack. It temporarily halted border crossing. The attackers now demand a Bitcoin ransom worth $4 million. According to the computer support platform Bleeping Computer, this may be the first time that a cyber attack on a federal agency has effectively agitated a country’s global operations. Argentina’s cybercrime agency got hold of the Bitcoin ransomware attack when various checkpoints started calling for tech support on August 27.

Ensuring that the ransomware attack did not affect other servers, Argentina’s immigration office shut down its computer networks. Moreover, it momentarily halted border crossing for four hours. Precisely, the National Directorate of Migration (DNM) says in a report that The Comprehensive Migration Capture System (SICaM) that functions in international crossings was affected. This caused delays in entry and exit to the national territory.

How Malware Netwalker Functions

A virus infecting MS Windows and Microsoft Office files were discovered after investigating the Central Data Center and Servers Distributed. Netwalker is a powerful cryptocurrency virus. It uses complicated techniques to encrypt documents. Additionally, it employs an Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) cipher. Government bodies usually use this to preserve classified information. Moreover, the encrypted devices had ransom notes on it. Consequently, the Netwalker group made their demands through them.

Ransom Demands Escalates from $2 Million to $4 Million.

Netwalker hackers claimed for a $2 million ransom in Bitcoin from Argentina’s immigration office. They demanded the ransom in return for the safe release of the stolen private data. They also connected a dark web payment site with details. It includes information about buying a decryptor, sensitive data from their attack as proof that it occurred, and the ransom amount. However, the officials did not fulfil their bitcoin ransom requests. Thus, after numerous days, the hackers raised the bitcoin ransomware sum to $4 million in Bitcoin. It transposes to approximately 355 Bitcoins (BTC).

Argentina is not the only country to encounter Bitcoin ransom threats via attackers. Earlier, several municipalities in Japan in the Kanto region received emails threatening with the sentence “Bomb the city hall”. Moreover, some cities were commanding crypto assets like bitcoins. Conclusively, the constant attacks by hackers are a powerful reminder as to how criminals appeal to cryptocurrencies. Additionally, criminals are now taking an interest in crypto as the transactions are irreversible. 

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