A hacker group is threatening VPN providers with DDOS attacks

brian krebs project shield ddosattack
BlackVPN, a provider of virtual private network (VPN) software, has refused to pay a ransom demand from hacker group Armada Collective, which threatened to unleash a DDOS attack on the company if it didn’t pay up.

According to a blog post, BlackVPN received an email threat from the group demanding it pay 10.08 bitcoins (about $4,600) by Monday or “yours [sic] service going down” and the ransom demand will go up in price every day of non-payment. “Bitcoin is anonymous, nobody will ever know you cooperated,” said the email.


Armada Collective is allegedly the group of hackers that targeted encrypted email service Protonmail last year and successfully nabbed nearly $6,000 from the Swiss company after pummeling its servers with traffic.

It’s unclear if the people threatening BlackVPN are the same group or just copycats. As with Anonymous, it’s almost impossible to verify when someone claims to be speaking on behalf of the group. A report in December even pointed out how these hacker groups are regularly imitated.

BlackVPN said it received the threat last Monday, April 18, and has been preparing for the alleged DDOS onslaught that was promised today.

The VPN provider acknowledged that on Saturday, April 16, disruptions to its network were caused by a small DDOS attack that it was not prepared for. No intrusions were detected, it added. The company has said that since then, it has been preparing to withstand a possible attack, and it told customers that they are safe.

“The threat is only against BlackVPN’s systems and attacking our service will not compromise or threaten our customers’ privacy or security,” it wrote. “The worst case scenario is that our VPN service and support systems are unavailable during the attack.”

The blog post added that it was aware of two other VPN providers that have received similar threats, but did not name them.

“We hope that our transparency will encourage other VPN services to speak up if they have also received a blackmail threat — now and in the future,” said the company.

Last week, the VPN service Cloak received a very similar email, also demanding around 10 bitcoins. That company also denied the extortion attempt and it does not appear to have suffered any major downtime since then.

But the hacker group has had some success allegedly. SCRYPTmail, another encrypted email provider, received a ransom of 10.12 bitcoin this past weekend when faced with the same threats from Armada Collective and paid a tiny fraction of it, just a couple of cents.

It’s not clear if Armada Collective is the same group that is behind the threats to Cloak, SCRYPTmail, and other VPNs. If so, the cyber criminals may be sending out multiple threats to VPN providers just to see if anyone will bite. According to BlackVPN, the group would only be effective in attacking one service at a time.

Emerging Tech

CES 2019 recap: All the trends, products, and gadgets you missed

CES 2019 didn’t just give us a taste of the future, it offered a five-course meal. From 8K and Micro LED televisions to smart toilets, the show delivered with all the amazing gadgetry you could ask for. Here’s a look at all the big…

Ford has a plan to future-proof the hot-selling F-150 pickup truck

Worried about the threat of rising gas prices, Ford will add the F-150 to its growing portfolio of electrified vehicles. It is currently developing a hybrid F-150, and it will release an electric version of the next-generation truck.

Hackers are scoring with ransomware that attacks its previous victims

Computer viruses are always evolving. In a new one, dubbed "Ryuk," hackers are targeting PCs with ransomware that scours an infected network in order to pinpoint and attack and enterprises with big money.

‘Fortnite’ security flaw let hackers spy on players through microphones

A security vulnerability found in Fortnite allowed hackers to gain access to other players' accounts, potentially letting them spy on conversations using the in-game microphone. It has been addressed.
Emerging Tech

Lasers and bovine breathalyzer help determine how much methane cows produce

Cow farts and belches don't sound like catastrophic threats, but they contribute to the massive amounts of methane in the atmosphere. Recently, scientists set out to establish the numbers.

An update to Microsoft To-Do will help you keep up with your resolutions

If you're looking to stay productive in 2019, you might want to check out the freshly updated Microsoft To-Do app, now with additional integration with the Windows 10 Start Menu and more.

Could the next Microsoft HoloLens be announced at MWC 2019?

After not having a presence at Mobile World Congress for three years, Microsoft is now sending out media invites for a press conference on February 24 during the annual event in Barcelona. Could a next-generation HoloLens be on the way?

Want to save a webpage as a PDF? Just follow these steps

Need to quickly save and share a webpage? The best way is to learn how to save a webpage as a PDF file, as they're fully featured and can handle images and text with ease. Here's how.

Microsoft to separate Cortana from search with the next version of Windows 10

Changes are on the way for two key features in Windows 10. A separation of Windows 10 search and Cortana will allow Microsoft to more often innovate on each of the features independently.

Delete tracking cookies from your system by following these quick steps

Cookies are useful when it comes to saving your login credentials and other data, but they can also be used by advertisers to track your browsing habits across multiple sites. Here's how to clear cookies in the major browsers.

Convert your PDFs into convenient Word documents with Adobe or a free option

PDF files are great, but few document types are as malleable as those specific to Microsoft Word. Here's how to convert a PDF file into a Word document, whether you prefer to use Adobe's software suite or a freemium alternative.

Nvidia’s next midrange card might be a GTX 1660 Ti, rumors suggest

Nvidia may be working on a non-RTX Turing graphics card called the 1660 Ti. Rumors suggest it will have around 20 percent fewer CUDA cores than the RTX 2060 and will lack ray tracing support.

From Samsung to HP, here are the best cheap Chromebook deals right now

Whether you want a compact laptop to enjoy some entertainment on the go, or you need a no-nonsense machine for school or work, we've smoked out the best cheap Chromebook deals -- from full-sized laptops to 2-in-1 convertibles -- with most…

Chromebook 13 vs. Google Pixelbook: Acer model takes on the king

Acer's Chromebook 13 is throwing tons of speed at the Chrome OS market, to go with a midrange build and traditional clamshell design. Is that enough to challenge the Google Pixelbook?