Bitcoin Ransomware Attacks: Will They Ever Stop?
Members of the cybersecurity industry – such as Jason Ingalls, the founder and CEO of Ingalls Information Security – claim that there’s been a serious spike in bitcoin ransomware attacks over the past few years, and it’s happening strictly because hackers are looking to obtain BTC in the quickest and easiest way possible. Ingalls says that approximately $1.4 billion in BTC has been lost due to bitcoin ransomware attacks in the U.S. alone.
These attacks occur when a person opens their computer or smart device, only to find it completely locked up and that data encrypted. On the screen is a message saying that unless they pay a bitcoin ransom, their device will remain locked up and in the hands of the hacker forever.
One of the latest victims of such an attack was the School of Medicine at a university in San Francisco, California. The staff woke up one day to find that all their servers had been encrypted. After negotiating with the hackers – who initially wanted $3 million to release the computer data – the staff members were able to bring the ransom number down to roughly $1.14, which the team paid. They are now working with law enforcement officials, who are seeking to get to the bottom of the attack.
Ingalls explained in a statement:
Cryptocurrency serves an important role in ransomware’s international chain of wealth transfer from victim to criminal.
In addition, there is a strange belief floating about the crypto space that privacy coins such as Monero and Zcash are widely popular amongst cryptocurrency thieves due to their quasi-anonymous properties, but this isn’t quite true. Liat Shetret – a senior advisor for the crypto regulation and policy firm Elliptic – says that bitcoin remains much more popular amongst crypto hackers given that it is considerably easier to obtain.
Privacy coins are not the crypto asset of choice for ransomware because bitcoin is easier to obtain. With privacy coins, the cash-out options are more limited, and that minimizes the hackers’ abilities to mobilize their money.
You Can’t Always Do This Alone
Alex Kanen is an attorney who represents several clients that have been hacked and had their data encrypted. Describing the situation, he mentions:
Their initial response is usually panic. They feel the need to respond to the hackers quickly because the ransom fee usually grows if deadlines are not met, and with little fanfare so as not to draw attention to the security breach. In these situations, a quick response and the right resources are imperative to regain control of the systems and data.
However, he says this is not an easy thing to do, and he says that many clients make the mistake of trying to handle the hackers on their own at first.