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10/1/2008
09:26 PM
George V. Hulme
George V. Hulme
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Authorities May Know Identity Of Gpcode Author

The author of the so-called ransomware virus Gpcode may have made a serious mistake when he or she recently approached Kaspersky Lab to attempt to sell a tool that would decrypt victims' files.

The author of the so-called ransomware virus Gpcode may have made a serious mistake when he or she recently approached Kaspersky Lab to attempt to sell a tool that would decrypt victims' files.You may have heard of, hopefully secondhand, the well-known (but not so widely spread) hunk of ransomware which will encrypt a wide range of files -- DOC, TXT, PDF, XLS, images, and other file types -- and then demand a "ransom" payment for the key necessary to decrypt the files.

Well, according to a story that ran in The Register today, the author messed up:

Kaspersky Labs [sic] was recently contacted by someone claiming to offer a decryption tool for the latest variant of the malware, Techworld reports. This tool turned out to be genuine, establishing that the scammer had access to the master keys used by the malware. This, in turn, prompted Kaspersky analysts to search for the IP address of the author.

Although he used compromised machines and proxies, enough circumstantial evidence was obtained in order to pin down a probable suspect in Russia. Techworld reports that no action has been taken as yet.

Unfortunately, it doesn't look like the Russian authorities are interested in hoping on the case. From the Techworld story referenced by The Register:

Tracking down the owners of these PCs proved extremely difficult, with service provider Yahoo, for one, allegedly refusing to cooperate with the investigation on privacy grounds. Foreign police were informed, however, as were the Russian authorities. Armed with enough circumstantial evidence, "they were interested," the Kaspersky source confirmed.

To date, it is not clear what if any action the authorities plan to take.

We covered Gpcode earlier this year, here and here.

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