Cryptocurrency always faces a battle against banishment. But this time, those fighting for a ban on Bitcoin have a strong reason: stopping ransomware attacks.
Continue to reading to learn more.
Why is There a Push to Ban Bitcoin?
In April, hackers gained access to the networks making up the Colonial Pipeline Co. The breach happened via a private network account, which gave remote employees access to the company’s network. It’s possible hackers found the password from a data breach posted on the dark web, but not confirmed.
A week after the initial breach, a ransom note appeared on a computer screen. The demand? Cryptocurrency.
The threat leads to an immediate shutdown of the Colonial Pipeline — the first in its 57-years of operation. As a result, the Colonial supply line could not continue delivering its daily output of 2.5 million fuel barrels. Gas prices skyrocketed, and gas stations were met with long lines and angry customers.
The hackers, a cybercrime crew with the alias Darkside, also stole 100 GB of data they threatened to leak if Colonial didn’t pay the ransom. In the end, Colonial paid the group $4.4 million.
Why Hackers Demand Bitcoin and Other Cryptocurrencies
Bitcoin and other crypto coins are popular among hackers due to their anonymous nature. Even if you can view the wallet a ransom goes to, you can’t see who controls it. This has led to an onslaught of ransomware attacks with almost no consequences for the culprits.
In particular, DarkSide has flourished. The hacker group received over $42 million in ransom payments over the last year alone. Experts speculate this number is likely higher, as some may not report attacks.
As the attacks increase and punishment remains out of reach, the call to ban bitcoin grows momentum.
Is Banning Bitcoin the Solution?
Recovery of lost funds due to ransom has proved difficult.
DarkSide works with affiliates, providing them with malware these criminal partners can use to compromise data on the target’s network systems. After the victim pays out, the partner receives most of the payment, while DarkSide gets the rest. So, transactions are anonymous via cryptocurrency, and now there are multiple channels it flows through.
The easy answer to this section’s question is yes. A ban on bitcoin is a viable solution to mitigate these increasing ransomware attacks. But it’s not necessarily the only solution.
As of now, the FBI has recovered 63.7 bitcoin (about $2 million) from an affiliate. The FBI has declined to share details on their recovery process, but we can expect to see further efforts on their end.
Don’t Worry About A Ban on Bitcoin — Yet
As much as people go to bat against crypto, a full ban in the United States remains table-talk for now. And as recovery efforts for ransomware attacks improve, it may just stay that way.