139

I received the following email, addressed to me at an email address on my personal domain (for which I run my own mail server on a VPS):

FORWARD THIS MAIL TO WHOEVER IS IMPORTANT IN YOUR COMPANY AND CAN MAKE DECISION!

We are Armada Collective. lmgtfy URL here

Your network will be DDoS-ed starting 12:00 UTC on 08 May 2016 if you don't pay protection fee - 10 Bitcoins @ some-bitcoin-address

If you don't pay by 12:00 UTC on 08 May 2016, attack will start, yours service going down permanently price to stop will increase to 20 BTC and will go up 10 BTC for every day of attack.

This is not a joke.

Our attacks are extremely powerful - sometimes over 1 Tbps per second. And we pass CloudFlare and others remote protections! So, no cheap protection will help.

Prevent it all with just 10 BTC @ some-bitcoin-address

Do not reply, we will not read. Pay and we will know its you. AND YOU WILL NEVER AGAIN HEAR FROM US!

Bitcoin is anonymous, nobody will ever know you cooperated.

Obviously, I'm not going to pay the ransom. Should I do anything else?

Update:

I forwarded the email and original headers to the originating ISP. They replied that "Measures have been taken." So, umm, yay? I guess?

  • 68
    I've heard about this group in particular. They never actually ddos anyone. – Rápli András May 5 '16 at 0:26
  • 177
    @CodyP 1Tbps is already a lot, then what is 1Tbps per second? – Hagen von Eitzen May 5 '16 at 6:57
  • 278
    @HagenvonEitzen Not only is it a fast attack... its accelerating – Trotski94 May 5 '16 at 8:10
  • 246
    Maybe they meant 1 tablespoon (tbsp) per second. – edmeme May 5 '16 at 10:21
  • 53
    Several of my customers have received identical threats, no DDoS'es have been observed. Bottomline: don't pay, contact local law enforcement agencies (extortion is a criminal offense in most countries at least), and make sure you have procedure for dealing with attacks ready (which have you should in any case). – Teun Vink May 5 '16 at 11:05
98

Based on the following article you may simply want to ignore it. This seems to be a common scam and your e-mail looks almost exactly like the one from the following article.

http://arstechnica.com/security/2016/04/businesses-pay-100000-to-ddos-extortionists-who-never-ddos-anyone/

Look up the source ISP of the service provider that sent the e-mail and contact their abuse team abuse@company.com. They may disable the source of the e-mails or alert the unsuspecting customer that may own the machine. Notifying the source ISP is helpful to reduce the amount of this. Make sure you send them an e-mail with full headers. If the source appears to be a compromised system at a large company I would notify them in addition to the ISP. Do this by CC'ing both the company and the ISP at the same time for fastest results. Keep in mind some malicious systems may also be impersonating as a compromised host even though it's not so notifying the ISP may actually be more important than notifying the owner of the system.

  • 8
    Looks like they sent it from yourserver.se, through openmailbox.org. I guess I should contact yourserver.se. – alexw May 5 '16 at 0:26
  • 3
    I like the part where they say they'll know it's you that paid, but then go on to say bitcoin is anonymous and nobody will know you co-operated. Contradicts themselves, kinda. "Pay and we will know its you [...] Bitcoin is anonymous, nobody will ever know you cooperated." – hd. May 9 '16 at 10:46
  • 15
    @hd. not necessarily, if they create a bitcoin address per victim they can identify which victim send them money. While other people couldn't because they don't know which bitcoin address the victim was told to send the money to – Kevin May 9 '16 at 15:57
107

This article might be important for you: https://ca.news.yahoo.com/armada-collective-ddos-threats-were-212413418.html

Someone has been copying the Armada Collective's email content to scare people into paying, but no attacks have been recorded.

So, possibly, you don't have to do anything.

  • 1
    Same story basis, different source theregister.co.uk/2016/05/04/empty_ddos_threats_reloaded for those wanting more than one resource – gabe3886 May 5 '16 at 12:24
  • 2
    Also more info on the Cloudflare blog: blog.cloudflare.com/… – JonasCz May 5 '16 at 15:56
  • 82
    Crucial aspect: the extortion emails reuse Bitcoin addresses, there's no way the Armada Collective can tell who has paid and who has not (from the CloudFare blog). That gives one sufficient condition for knowing the email was fake - it if reuses a known bitcoin address that's been used in similar emails, it is overwhelmingly likely to be fake. – E.P. May 5 '16 at 17:03
53

Ignore it.

Cloudflare themselves have stated that these are fake - see https://blog.cloudflare.com/empty-ddos-threats-meet-the-armada-collective/ I highly recommend that you read this article, as it is a very clear explanation from the front line. The armada collective is a real DDOS group, but some con artists are just using their name to try to scare people. The Bitcoin address is apparently the same on all their emails, which means that they will never know who has paid them.
It is possible to track the amounts paid to a Bitcoin address and it seems they have made over $100K from this scam!

Bottom line, DDOS threats should be backed up by proof (perhaps a DDOS of 15 mins) before you pay up.

EDIT: Just to clarify as it seems from the comments that I wasn't clear enough.
I don't mean to give an opinion whether payment should be made or not. Always have good security, and if a threat causes you to decide to spend money - either by paying the demand or by purchasing DDOS protection that you wouldn't otherwise need - check that the threat is legitimate first by demanding more proof than what might be just an empty threat.

  • 4
    imgur.com/iLUE7BU – alexw May 5 '16 at 15:43
  • A quick internet search pulls up at least a few different bitcoin addresses have been used, so either they caught on, there are multiple groups doing this, or CloudFlare didn't have a large enough sampling. – Alexander O'Mara May 5 '16 at 21:07
  • If any address is used more than once, they cannot identify who has paid money to them via that address. – David Glickman May 5 '16 at 22:08
  • 6
    @Erik, I interpreted the last sentence as advice to attackers to prove their abilities by actually performing a DDOS for 15 minutes before expecting payment. Kind of an odd statement to include on this site, but the alternate version makes sense: "Have good security. Ignore any DDOS threat/demand for ransom unless there is actual evidence that it has teeth. Then, handle your vulnerability to DDOS (and then continue to ignore the threats)." – Wildcard May 6 '16 at 3:05
  • Not saying that you should or shouldn't pay. Paying DDOS or ransomware demands is a matter of opinion which we could discuss at length. There have been some high profile cases in USA where hospitals have paid out for ransomware. I've clarified my answer to wildcard's correct interpretation, except with the proviso that some people might actually want to pay. I'm not about to give advice to DDOS attackers, although I think that the 'legitimate' ones are probably quite annoyed by these guys! – David Glickman May 6 '16 at 8:50
18

If you are in the UK please do this:

Message sent by Action Fraud (Action Fraud, Administrator, National)

Within the past 24 hours a number of businesses throughout the UK have received extortion demands from a group calling themselves ‘Lizard Squad’.

Method of Attack: The group have sent emails demanding payment of 5 Bitcoins, to be paid by a certain time and date. The email states that this demand will increase by 5 Bitcoins for each day that it goes unpaid.

If their demand is not met, they have threatened to launch a Denial of Service attack against the businesses’ websites and networks, taking them offline until payment is made.

The demand states that once their actions have started, they cannot be undone.

What to do if you’ve received one of these demands:

  • Report it to Action Fraud by calling 0300 123 2040 or by using the online reporting tool
  • Do not pay the demand
  • Retain the original emails (with headers)
  • Maintain a timeline of the attack, recording all times, type and content of the contact

If you are experiencing a DDoS right now you should:

  • Report it to Action Fraud by calling 0300 123 2040 immediately.
  • Call your Internet Service Provider (ISP) (or hosting provider if you do not host your own Web server), tell them you are under attack and ask for help.
  • Keep a timeline of events and save server logs, web logs, email logs, any packet capture, network graphs, reports etc.

Get Safe Online top tips for protecting your business from a DDoS:

  • Consider the likelihood and risks to your organisation of a DDoS attack, and put appropriate threat reduction/mitigation measures in place.
  • If you consider that protection is necessary, speak to a DDoS prevention specialist.
  • Whether you are at risk of a DDoS attack or not, you should have the hosting facilities in place to handle large, unexpected volumes of website hits.
  • 2
    lizard squad where disbanded after last years PSN attacks, these threats have been proved to be fake ibtimes.co.uk/… – James Kirkby May 5 '16 at 10:46
  • Thanks, I'm in the US but I'm sure this will be useful for others. – alexw May 5 '16 at 16:00
  • 1
    @JamesKirkby yeah, but its still useful info for the next bunch of ******** who do have their purchased bot network ready to go. – gbjbaanb May 5 '16 at 16:06
7

Pay and we will know its you.

This is the thing: an empty threat looking exactly like what you have there has been going around, which always has the same bitcoin address in it. In other words: they can't know it's you if you pay, and therefore the threat must be a bluff. Still, hundreds of thousands of dollars have reportedly been sent to that address, by people taken in by it...

To find out if it is a bluff, google the bitcoin address. I imagine you'll quickly be able to find out whether they sent you a unique one, in which case you have reason to worry, or not.

Steve Gibson talked about this on episode 557 of his Security Now podcast (transcript here). My money is on it being a bluff, since your text appears to be word for word the same as what Steve Gibson talks about.

  • I only found the bitcoin address they sent, mentioned on one other website. However, who knows how many other people have received this same address. It does not appear that anyone has made any payments to the address at this time. – alexw May 6 '16 at 18:43
  • 2
    @alexw I'd say even one find is enough to conclude it's a bluff. They could only tell that you're the one who paid if they send you, and only you, a unique address. – Pepijn Schmitz May 6 '16 at 19:40
5

This threatening email seems to be just that: a threat.

You don't have to tolerate it, whatever they will do, this is plain extortion.

Report it to:

  • your hosting company, by sending them an original copy of the threatening E-mail (with all headers in their original form. Transfer as an attachment within any professional E-mail client),

  • your national security agency or specialised IT police department with an original copy of the threatening E-mail.

[...] the world is in greater peril from those who tolerate or encourage evil
than from those who actually commit it.
                                                                                                                  Albert Einstein

3

Seems like a bluff for all the reasons given in other answers.

If they're planning to DDoS you with sheer bandwidth then they aren't just DDoSing you, they'd be attacking the network connection of your VPS.

Therefore, even though this attack seems unlikely, it's probably best to inform your VPS vendor that the threat has occurred. They might tell you to ignore it (and future threats), but since it will affect them if it ever happens then the courteous thing to do is let them know and find out their policy. They've probably seen threats like this before and if so they have more experience than you deciding whether and when to involve law enforcement.

Of course this depends to an extent on your VPS vendor: if you happen to know that their customer service is unresponsive or incompetent then there's not a lot you can do in that direction.

-1

Do nothing, it's probably a bot sending you that email anyway. They don't know your IP address and won't find out if you don't reply either. Even if they do, you might notice your connection starts lagging out. In that case, simply inform your ISP and request a new IP address, problem solved.

protected by Community Jun 4 '16 at 22:29

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