Why Crypto-Ransomware Is Spiking All Of A Sudden

News, Opinion | November 15, 2021 By:

However, computer security experts have been warning about ransomware for years, it has only lately exploded in popularity. In the rise of ransomware, cryptocurrency isn’t the only driving force. This is a problem that the industry must deal with as quickly as possible.

As a result of several high-profile instances, ransomware assaults are now front and center in the media’s focus on cybersecurity threats. One of the major technologies assisting in the present growth is Bitcoin. In order to counteract these assaults, some have suggested banning bitcoin (or all cryptocurrencies).

Banning cryptocurrencies will not have any effect. However, the sector may take measures to attempt and restrict the spread of ransomware assaults.

Defense mechanisms

Governments across the globe are paying greater attention to this kind of cyberattack. Because of crypto’s involvement in allowing ransomware, authorities will almost certainly compel the sector to come up with a solution if it doesn’t do so on its own.

Taking the initiative is in the best interests of the crypto sector. Because blockchain transactions can be tracked, there are currently mechanisms in place to counteract this kind of assault. There are other regulatory regimes focusing on identifying users and restricting money laundering that exchanges are beginning to comply with in order to address this problem.

Crypto And Ransomware Problem

The crypto industry is plagued with ransomware.

Many significant ransomware assaults have crippled critical infrastructure in the past two months, including fuel transportation, national health services, and livestock distribution. For a long now, ransomware has been looming large in cyberspace. Attacks, on the other hand, have grown in both ferocity and profitability in recent years.

To begin, let’s set the stage by defining our terminology. For the most part, a ransomware attack occurs when an intruder installs malicious software that blocks access to a computer or network until the attacker sends a payment. Malware may be installed via exploiting a vulnerability or fooling people into installing a harmful application through a phishing email. Both methods are used by attackers.

In the last several months, you may have heard about JBS or Colonial Pipeline due to ransomware attacks. CNA Financial, Atlanta, sections of the Irish health sector and the UK health service, as well as Australian hospitals and Cox Media Group, are just a few of the recent victims.

If victims pay a ransom to the attackers, they will give a decryption key. While this kind of cyberattack has existed for some time before the emergence of bitcoin, it has been greatly facilitated by it.

The amount of money ransomware attackers got last year skyrocketed, according to Chainalysis, a crypto analytics company – close to $500 million. According to Chainalysis’s Senior Director of Communications Madeleine Kennedy, trends in 2021 seem to be trailing somewhat with victims donating just $127 million in the last six months. It’s possible that more businesses have paid crypto ransoms than have been publicly disclosed.

The world’s governments have now reached the stage where businesses must deal with this issue since it has not been addressed. The President of the United States has ordered his staff to assess how the federal government responds to ransomware attacks, particularly by increasing efforts for cryptoanalysis. Ransomware attack investigations will be handled similarly to terrorism investigations, according to the Justice Department. Leading legislators are taking a close look at these assaults.

Can Banning Bitcoin Be a Solution?

It’s impossible to overestimate the significance of crypto in the spread of ransomware. Stateless, decentralized value transfer tools may help protesters resist financial monitoring and censorship under dictatorships or save wealth during runaway inflation, but criminals and malevolent actors can also benefit from them. I contacted members of the task force to find out whether the rise of ransomware was due in part to the use of bitcoin.

CEO of the Institute for Security and Technology and a co-chair of the Ransomware Task Force, Philip Reiner, said: “Without a doubt.”

“Without a doubt,” said Michael Daniel, CEO of the Cyber Threat Alliance and another task group co-chair.

Vice president of financial investigations at blockchain research company CipherTrace Pamela Clegg described cryptocurrency as “a route of least resistance,” but suggested that in place of cryptocurrency, alternative payment methods might be utilized.

Sending several million dollars in bitcoin instead of a wire transfer or overseas payment using fiat currency may be simpler for a victim business.

One idea is to outright prohibit the use of bitcoin. Nevertheless, the members of the Ransomware Task Force, which comprised crypto businesses and non-crypto enterprises and organizations, do not consider this a viable option.

“You may give it a go,” Daniel replied, “but I doubt it will work.”

“Saying that is not a realistic or viable strategy,” he added. There’s a better way. I believe it’s time to establish an appropriate, policy-balanced way to allow for cryptocurrency innovation while also protecting our financial system from illegal behavior, such as money laundering.

What are the options?

Reiner wholeheartedly agreed with this statement. To make things a little easier, make sure that OTC trading desks follow KYC requirements, as well as maintaining KYC and AML standards on bitcoin ATM kiosks.

Firms and regulators must also be aware of the technological aspects of Bitcoin ransomware. It’s important to know how exchanges and mixers work, for example.

When key business players realize they must band together and take action before regulatory authorities step in, he says, “there comes a moment of awareness in every sector.” If the federal government does anything about the cryptocurrency ecosystem, it will be in everyone’s best interest to be a part of the discussion or perhaps lead it, as one analyst speculates.

Deputy National Security Advisor for Cyber and Emerging Technology Anne Neuberger recently released a set of cyber hygiene guidelines that companies should begin implementing right now, according to him.

Even if outright banning Bitcoin isn’t a feasible option, its involvement in ransomware must be investigated.

While the use of bitcoin by hackers is clearly a bad thing, Kennedy pointed out that law enforcement authorities can monitor transactions and identify harmful actors since bitcoin is a traceable cryptocurrency.