Popular Criminal Use For Bitcoin Is Ransom | PYMNTS.com

What is it about bitcoin that keeps it continuously getting tangled into the headlines tied to criminal activity?

To start, the somewhat anonymous nature of bitcoin itself obviously lures criminals to the digital currency. But what’s more is that bitcoin seems to have taken on a new role as being the currency involved in the modern day criminal heist that involves demanding a ransom from vulnerable consumers.

Or, as a New York Times reporter phrased it in his piece about the criminal trend, bitcoin ransom has become the “modern day version of a mob shakedown.”

“The criminal underground very much likes bitcoin,” Curt Wilson, a senior threat intelligence analyst at Arbor Networks, told Nathaniel Popper. “It’s enabled a greater sense of obfuscation.”

Popper, the author of “Digital Gold,” which explores the fascinating history of bitcoin’s past, shares more of his insight about how bitcoin crimes have made the concept of a ransom (previously, briefcases of cash) into computers and cyberattacks.

“Hackers around the world have seized files on millions of computers, taken down public websites and even, in a few cases, threatened physical harm. The victims — who have ranged from ordinary computer users to financial firms and police departments — are told that their only way out is through a bitcoin payment that is sometimes more than $20,000,” Popper wrote.

Perhaps bitcoin’s more recent attractive prices — close to $300 at the moment — has attracted more criminals to the digital currency. Because bitcoin isn’t a government-registered currency it often attracts criminals since the nature of its technology makes it more difficult to track. Not impossible, of course, but more difficult.

But if you look at recent headlines, bitcoin ransoms have seemed to be somewhat of a regular occurrence. For example, as Popper points to in his piece, there was recently an attack suspected

Originally appeared at: http://www.pymnts.com/news/2015/another-criminal-use-case-for-bitcoin-ransom/