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Security advisories — Feb 27, 2019

Wide Spread Bitcoin Extortion Attempts

2 minutes read
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eSentire is aware of an ongoing email extortion campaign in which an unknown threat actor(s) claims they will detonate an explosive device unless they are transferred $20,000 in Bitcoin.

Widespread public reporting of this threat indicates the campaign is not targeted to any specific organization and is likely part of a mass spam campaign.

eSentire recommends treating similar threats on a case-by-case basis when determining credibility. Organizations are encouraged to report similar threats to local law enforcement and follow their guidance.

What we’re doing about it

IP addresses associated with this campaign have been added to the eSentire Global Blacklist

What you should do about it

Report and follow guidance from local law enforcement.

Additional information

The emails analyzed by eSentire are all slight variations of the same message. The threat actor(s) demands that $20,000 in Bitcoin be paid by the end of the business day. While eSentire does not believe this threat to be credible, threats to human life should be taken seriously and encourage recipients to follow the guidance of local law enforcement.

Multiple users on various social media platforms have reported cases of similar email threats. In a statement to CNN, US federal authorities indicated they were aware of the threat and encouraged vigilance (See Public Reports).

Known Email Subject Lines:

Sample Email Body:

Good day. I write you to inform you that my recruited person has hidden a bomb (Tetryl) in the building where your business is located. My mercenary built the bomb according to my guide. It can be hidden anywhere because of its small size, it is impossible to damage the building structure by my bomb, but you will get many victims if it explodes.

My man is watching the situation around the building. If any suspicious activity or emergency is noticed the bomb will be exploded.

I can withdraw my man if you pay. You transfer me $20'000 in BTC and explosive will not detonate, but do not try to deceive me -I guarantee you that I will call off my recruited person solely after 3 confirmations in the blockchain.

It is my BTC address : [redacted]

You must transfer bitcoins by the end of the workday. If you are late with the payment the bomb will detonate.

Nothing personal this is just a business, if you don't send me the bitcoin and an explosive device explodes, other companies will transfer me more money, because it isn't an isolated case.

For my safety, I will not log into this email. I monitor my address every 35 minutes and after seeing the transaction I will order my man to get away.

If an explosion occurred and the authorities see this message-

We are not terrorists and don't assume any responsibility for acts of terrorism in other places.


Public Reports:

CNN: Bomb threats emailed to multiple locations across the country
https://www.cnn.com/2018/12/13/us/email-bomb-threats/index.html

Email Bomb Threat Potential Spam?https://www.reddit.com/r/sysadmin/comments/a5wa1s/email_bomb_threat_potential_spam/

Spam email (bitcoin) explosions of buildings
https://community.spiceworks.com/topic/2181527-spam-email-bit-coin-explosions-of-buildings

Krebs on Security: Spammed Bomb Threat Hoax Demands Bitcoin
https://krebsonsecurity.com/2018/12/spammed-bomb-threat-hoax-demands-bitcoin/

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