The soaring value of bitcoins has prompted an update in CryptoLocker, the malware that encrypts the contents of victims' entire hard drives until they pay a ransom.
As Ars reported in September, Cryptolocker gives victims 72 hours to pay a ransom if they ever want to see their data again. (The trojan was later updated to allow laggards to retrieve their data for a higher price.) When CryptoLocker first emerged, the malware demanded two bitcoins. Based on the value of a single bitcoin at that time, that was in the neighborhood of $200 to $400, depending on the exchange rate and the day. Over the past month, the value of a bitcoin has risen sharply, from $100 to $150 in September to prices in excess of $700 this week, according to charts such as this one.
This spike hasn't been lost on the people behind CryptoLocker. According to researchers at F-Secure, a new version of the ransomware is demanding 0.5 bitcoin.