Law enforcement agencies and government officials are trying to come up with a strategy to fight Bitcoin ransomware on a global scale. One proposal would see countries not doing anything to stop ransomware groups should be treated the same as those who aid in terrorism.
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Playing the Terrorism Card to Fight Ransomware
The topic of Bitcoin ransomware has been kicked around several times throughout 2016, and the number of attacks does not seem to be relenting anytime soon. Various hospitals and individual users have had to deal with this threat already, causing millions of dollars in financial losses for the affected victims.
This has caught the attention of the US Senate, as they held a meeting on May 18th to discuss a strategy. Taking the fight to ransomware will be a challenge, though, as this type of malware seems to be spreading itself from all over the world, through hijacked websites, email messages, and infected ad networks.
Senator Lindsey Graham shared his vision on what needs to be done:
We have a state-sponsor of terrorism list that the State Department collects. If you are on that list, bad things come your way because you are a bad actor. If we don’t wake up some of the nation-states where these problems reside in large measure, you are never going to fix this problem.
Ransomware is a severe threat to our society, and something has to be done about this situation. There is also a psychological effect to such an attack, and Graham feels “it is only a matter of time until somebody gets physically hurt.” It is evident the Senator wants to put an end to this threat but putting it on the same level as terrorism might be a bridge too far.
Identifying those nations who are actively combatting ransomware threats will require top-notch communication between government officials and law enforcement, though. Graham proposes a collaboration between the Department of Justice and the State Department to this extent, although that has not been officially confirmed as of yet. Both agencies are working together in the fight against terrorism already.
A different proposal by Deputy Attorney General at the DOJ Richard Downing would introduce new legislation. Assuming Congress approves his idea, loopholes in existing laws would be closed, and law enforcement agencies – the FBI in particular – will have an easier time pursuing and prosecuting those involved in ransomware schemes. Whether or not this would be under the terrorism guidelines, remains unclear.
VP of Intelligence at CrowdStrike Adam Meyers shared his stance as follows:
The revenue generated by ransomware is not insignificant. The only way to slow down those behind such campaigns is to make it harder and costlier for them to operate, The goal should be to make the potential downsides of running a ransomware campaign greater than any upside for the criminals. Only by turning the tables on the economic factors that fuel ransomware can the scourge be eliminated.
Putting an end to ransomware threats will also help Bitcoin’s public image as the popular cryptocurrency is getting a lot of slack over these attacks. Albeit Bitcoin is not at fault for ransomware distribution – or terrorism, for that matter- internet criminals favor payments in cryptocurrency due to its misleading anonymity traits. However, all of the transactions are recorded on the blockchain in real-time, and it is all but impossible to convert Bitcoin to other currencies without verifying one’s identity.
What are your thoughts on these proposals to end ransomware attacks? Is playing the terrorism card a good idea? Let us know in the comments below!
Source: Dark Reading
Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Lindsey Graham, pbs.org