The secret to success in marketing is rapid penetration of a new market.
A group of Bitcoins users has found a way to do this. They hijack people’s computers, encrypt the files, and then demand payment in Bitcoins. If the victims refuse to pay, their files are locked permanently. No access.
This way, people who have never heard of Bitcoins are brought into the Bitcoins community. They have 72 hours to send the money, or else the price rises by 20 to one. Now, that’s a true incentive! Marketers call this strategy “reasons why.” It is also called “act now.”
I call it Bitnapping.
Here is how it works. A criminal sends out what appear to be legitimate emails with an innocent-looking attachment. The victim opens it. A trojan then takes over any business-related files on his computer. It locks up these files by encryption.
There is no escape. The encryption program’s formula is unbreakable. If you are hit, you either comply, or else you do not get your files back if you failed to back them up.
This is like money in the bank for companies that provide file back-up services, which I recommend. It is also a way to introduce millions of people to Bitcoins.
By providing a means of payment for the ransom payments, Bitcoins will now enter markets where non-programmers operate. Computer programmers are the main beneficiaries. The criminals win. They are programmers.
Because of increased demand for Bitcoins from the business community, people who have invested in Bitcoins also benefit. As the market for Bitcoins shrinks, because of central bank prohibitions on the use of Bitcoins by commercial banks and other businesses, demand for Bitcoins will rise in those nations whose central banks still allow Bitcoins transactions.
A Boston CBS TV news station reports on how well this scheme is working. “As the ransomware takes over your computer, a countdown clock appears and shows victims how long they have to pay up. That means purchasing a key, or software, to reverse the process.” A local FBI agent says that this appears to be the perfect crime. The FBI informed WBZ-TV they are very worried about this spreading in 2014.
So far, no one has been caught.
Here is how the Bitcoins marketing plan works.
CryptoLocker is the name of a Trojan horse malware which surfaced in in October. It is a form of ransomware that targets computers running Microsoft Windows.
A CryptoLocker attack may come from various sources. One such is disguised as a legitimate email attachment. When activated, the malware encrypts certain types of files, mainly business-related files. The criminals are going for the money: businesses.
Although CryptoLocker itself is readily removed, files remain encrypted in a way which researchers have considered impossible to break.
The malware then displays a message which offers to decrypt the data if a payment is made: half a Bitcoin. There is a deadline. If the deadline is not met, the malware offers to decrypt data via an online service provided by the malware’s operators for ten Bitcoins. In short, “Act now!”
Due to the length of the key employed by CryptoLocker, experts considered it practically impossible to use a brute-force attack to obtain the key needed to decrypt files without paying.
So, there you are. This is a Bitcoins marketing strategy that is almost flawless. New markets will open up around the world.
Privacy pays in certain markets. Bitcoins is a costly way to gain privacy, compared to an ATM machine, but if businessmen are highly motivated, they will pay. Few businesses use Bitcoins to sell anything, but they will soon be willing to pay to receive programmers’ services.
As Bitnapping increases, complaints against Bitcoins will increase. Critics will claim that this form of unregulated money-laundering must be stopped. Central banks are in a position to prohibit Bitcoins-related transactions by commercial banks, just as the People’s Bank of China did recently.