Scan Computers, Novatech and Aria Technology all encountered website disruption yesterday, with the latter confirming a Bitcoin-based DDoS attack was to blame.
Aria Taheri, Aria's eponymous boss, told CRN the firm's website went down yesterday afternoon for a couple of hours as hackers sent an email demanding the payment of 16.66 Bitcoins (£2,871.43), otherwise they would try to bring the site down for the whole of Wednesday.
Fellow e-tailers Novatech and Scan also took to Twitter to inform their customers that there had been problems with their sites, while CCL is another thought to have encountered issues.
@AtomicEdge It was yes, we lost all our connections everywhere for a bit :(— Novatech (@NovatechLtd) October 19, 2015
We are experiencing some technical issues with our website, our team are are working to ensure any disruption is kept to a minimum.— Scan Computers (@ScanComputers) October 19, 2015
Novatech and CCL were unavailable for comment at the time of publication. Elan Raja III, Scan's director, said: "Scan are aware there has been some disruption in traffic and is investigating the cause."
Taheri said he understood that the website disruption suffered by his competitors was caused by the same DDoS attack and believes other companies in his industry have also received ransoms for Bitcoins this week.
Aria's website was hit in a hack in February 2013 but the firm caught the perpetrators last year after putting up a reward.
Taheri is adopting the same tactic on this occasion, posting a £15,000 bounty (pictured above) for anyone who provides information to help police catch the hackers. He said the reward is much higher than the Bitcoin ransom because he wants to send a message to the hackers and due to the "principle" of the attack.
He said he is not going to pay the ransom demanded as it would send out the wrong message.
"These kinds of attacks are only designed to affect our website and make it inaccessible. However, [our customers'] information is 100 per cent secure as we are PCI DSS compliant which is quite a strict web-security protocol. Also, the website unavailability will last for only a short period – a matter of hours – so the customers can always come back at a later time.
"We are not going to encourage more of these hackers by giving them Bitcoins, because that would only encourage others to come to us and blackmail us more. The message to the hackers is that I will spend a significant amount of money to bring them to justice. Our track record shows that we have done that before, and based on that track record I am fairly confident we can do that [again]."
The attack the cybercriminals have threatened to carry out on Aria's website tomorrow coincides with a "prime day" on which low prices are offered to customers, Taheri added.
On the rise
There has been a rise in the number of DDOS attacks demanding Bitcoin ransoms in recent months, with Bloomberg reporting that a cybercriminal group called DDoS for Bitcoin (Distributed Denial of Service for Bitcoin) – or DD4BC – blackmailed financial institutions by threatening to disrupt websites last month unless they paid Bitcoin ransoms.
Taheri said the internet datacentre informed him that these kinds of attacks are "on the increase, and the frequency of it is going up at an alarming rate".
One source, who wished to remain anonymous, said the attack is similar to those launched by DD4BC, and could be from a group which is trying to emulate DD4BC.
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