Quartz reporter creates bot tracking hacking payments
Quartz tech reporter Keith Collins created a bot that users can follow on Twitter at @actual_ransom to see all the Bitcoin payments the WannaCry ransomware victims have sent in hopes to regain access to their files.
The Twitter bot watches each of the three wallets and tweets every time they receive new payments.
Collins also created a condition that will have the bot show if there is a withdrawal from these wallets. It will also tweet the total amount the wallets have received every couple of hours.
“Through my reporting, I found three bitcoin wallets hard-coded into the strain of Wana Decryptor ransomware that had spread that day,” said Collins in an email. “Those wallets, which are like bank accounts, are publicly accessible, so I started watching them and waiting for payments to come in. I kept refreshing the pages and tweeting the current totals, and realized it would probably be better to automate that. I got to work coding and had the bot working in about a day. It took that long to build due to the complex nature of blockchain.”
As of Monday afternoon, the three bitcoin wallets tied to WannaCry ransomware have received 209 payments totaling more than $55,500.
Collins’ story on the cyberattack can be found here. Although Bitcoin and the blockchain are publicly accessible, the identity and location of their users are anonymous and untraceable by design.
This bot is now being referred to in reports on the WannaCry attack, and is a powerful example of how bots can further journalism.