“Hackers have made just 65,000 US Dollars from cyberattack”

The hackers that launched last weekend’s global cyberattack have up to only received 65,000 US Dollars in ransom money from their victims. The Flemish ethical hacker Inti De Ceukelaire told VRT News that this is “surprisingly little compared to the damage they have caused”. Mr De Ceukelaire adds that it is far from certain that the ransomware hackers were working for the North Koreans as there made too many errors that can be put down to a lack of experience.

The WannaCry virus caused much damage worldwide. More than 250 companies and individuals in 150 countries were hit, causing millions of euro of financial loss.

But was the cyberattack a success? The motive remains unclear. Did the hackers want to inflict damage on a global scale? If so, they were successful. However, there are doubts as to whether this was the case.

If the hackers’ motives were financial, then they haven’t been too successful as up until now they have only made 65,000 US Dollars from their victims. Inti De Ceukelaire bases this calculation on the fact that the ransom was payable to three bitcoin accounts.

As bitcoin transaction are public anyone can see how much money has been transferred to the hackers’ accounts. Thomas Spaas, who is a board member of the Belgian Bitcoin Association confirms this.

However, it is still not know who owns the three bitcoin accounts.
Inti De Ceukelaire says that 65,000 US Dollars is remarkably little given the impact of the virus globally.

"Especially if you consider that in 2013 those behind the Cryptolocker malware made a couple of million dollars in just a couple of days”.

The fact that the hackers have made relatively little is amongst other factors linked to the fact that an emergency stop was discovered fairly quickly, meaning that the spread of the virus was curtailed.

"A lot of people haven’t paid. I think that the hackers miscalculated”.

“The damage could have been greater”

A despite the relatively small sum made Mr De Ceukelaire still believes that the motive for the hacking was financial.

"It could be that inflicting damage was their aim, but then they went about it rather clumsily. Although the damage was big, it could have been much greater. For example the emergency stop was not a good move on their part.”

The time the attack was launched (the weekend) would also point to it being the work the amateurs. "If they had launched the virus in the week it would have caused far more damage”, Mr De Ceukelaire told VRT News.

The hackers also fell afoul of other hackers. "They were able to copy the virus and make money out of it, which meant that the original hackers earned less from it.”

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