The prolific Ziggy ransomware gang has announced that it will start refunding ransom payments to its victims, following the group’s decision to cease operations.
The administrator of the gang’s operations had hinted about the idea on 19 March, saying that they were looking to return the payments to those who had paid ransoms. Making payments to ransomware groups in an attempt to recover encrypted or stolen data is generally not advised and might even lead to prosecution.
However, according to statements seen by BleepingComputer, the group announced their retirement from cyber crime on 6 February, with the administrator of the operation expressing regret about their actions and announcing that they had “decided to publish all decryption keys” to the affected systems.
The next day, they shared a SQL file containing 922 decryption keys which could be used by their victims to regain access to their data. The Ziggy administrator also provided the victims with a decryption tool, as well as the source code for a decryptor that doesn’t require access to an internet network.
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Almost two months later, the Ziggy group is now also offering to return the ransom payments, with victims asked to contact the gang’s admin at email@example.com and attach proof of payment as well as their computer ID. According to the hackers, the money will be returned to the victim’s Bitcoin wallet within two weeks.
However, it's worth noting that currently there is little evidence to suggest that the money will in fact be returned.
Despite offering to return the paid ransoms, the Ziggy group will still be profiting from the cyber attacks due to the payments being made in Bitcoin. It appears that hackers will return only the value of the ransom at the time of payment, rather than the quantity of bitcoin paid - a cryptocurrency that has surged in value in recent months.
On 7 February, when the decryption keys were made public, the price of one Bitcoin was around £28,000. At the time of writing, it is valued at over £41,000.
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Having only graduated from City University in 2019, Sabina has already demonstrated her abilities as a keen writer and effective journalist. Currently a content writer for Drapers, Sabina spent a number of years writing for ITPro, specialising in networking and telecommunications, as well as charting the efforts of technology companies to improve their inclusion and diversity strategies, a topic close to her heart.
Sabina has also held a number of editorial roles at Harper's Bazaar, Cube Collective, and HighClouds.