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Bitcoin has attracted a great deal of interest over the last couple of years, and mainstream investing has skyrocketed with the ever-growing Bitcoin price. Now, a new market sector is starting to emerge as American corporations are stocking up on digital currency to combat cybercrime.
Corporations Fuel Bitcoin Demand as Ransomware Spreads
Hackers with an eye towards gaining valuable Bitcoins are hitting corporations more and more with dreaded ransomware, and this problem seems to be getting worse and worse. How to handle this growing epidemic is also a matter of some controversy. It seems to put companies in a no win situation.
“The official FBI policy is that you shouldn’t pay the ransom,” said Leo Taddeo, chief security officer for Crypt-zone to Newsfactor. Taddeo ran the cyber division of the FBI’s New York City office.
It’s an option to pay the ransom to get back up and running. Sometimes it’s the only option. But it has downsides. Paying ransom just invites the next attack.
A vicious cycle has begun. The more companies pay out in Bitcoin, the more attacks become likely. The more valuable Bitcoins become, the more attacks become likely. Those who do not pay the ransomware demands may lose the trust of their customers or their valuable business data altogether. From the criminal’s side of it, they can rationalize their dastardly deeds by blaming the victims for not expecting this outcome from now on.
“They’ll actually explore your system to see how much money they can squeeze from you,” said Andrei Barysevich, director of advanced collection at Recorded Future. “They actually think they are on the moral high ground. They think the companies should have paid more for security.”
Ransomware Attacks Hit $1 Billion
A corporate cyber-hitman can demand up to $75000 USD in Bitcoin, or about 65 BTC. Individuals can get hit as well, but they can only be taken for a few hundred dollars. Recorded Future, a Somerville, Mass., threat intelligence firm, says ransom payments skyrocketed 4,000 percent last year, reaching $1 billion. Another firm, Kaspersky Lab, estimates that a new business is attacked with ransomware every 40 seconds, becoming a true epidemic.
Another problem is just because you have paid a cyber-criminal does not mean they will kindly do as they said and provide you decryption keys to restore your files. Criminals aren’t the most ethical people in the world, so you may have to pay a couple of times. Authorities say backing up all your computer files on a regular basis may be the best way to protect yourself.
This may save file information, but may not restore computer systems that are needed to continue running the business on a daily basis. It depends upon the attack if you will need to pay up or not. About 25% of companies never get restoration after an attack.
Have you been the victim of a ransomware attack? What’s the best way to prevent such an attack besides backing up your files? Share below!
Image provided by Business Insider, Shutterstock