Could Digital Currencies Become a Target in the Fight Against Ransomware?

According to a former assistant attorney general at the U.S. Department of Justice’s National Security Division, tackling the rise in ransomware attacks could see action taken against hard-to-trace digital currencies such as bitcoin.

In the last year, there has been an increase in the number of ransomware attacks.

Earlier this year, a Canadian university had to pay bitcoin to malicious hackers so that it could access its computer systems after a cyberattack denied access to its data. In February, a Hollywood hospital was the target of ransomware attack and had to pay $17,000 in bitcoins to the extortionists.

Unsurprisingly, due to the rise in ransomware attacks, banks are now keeping hold of bitcoins to pay ransom demands in case they become targeted by a cyberattack.

Speaking to Business Insider, David S. Kris, former assistant attorney general at the U.S. Department of Justice’s National Security Division said that:

I think the way to attack this – and I think the way you’re probably going to see some legal change over the next few years – is on the other end, with respect to the payments.

According to the tech firm Kaspersky Lab, this summer has seen a rise in the number of cyberattack victims. In 2014-2015, the number was around 131,000, but in 2015-2016 it had risen to an alarming 718,000, as reported by Business Insider.

A report from CCN last month found that, according to Juan Andres Guerrero-Saade, a Kaspersky Lab ZAO researcher, criminals employ ransomware because it’s easier to launch and because it’s more profitable compared to breaking into computers to steal funds through online banking.

Unfortunately, with various companies and organizations being targeted by ransomware attacks, it seems as though the threat from hackers is not going away anytime soon.

With the wide use of digital currencies making it easier for criminals to demand ransom payments coupled with a low risk of being caught, the use of digital currencies such as bitcoin will also continue for now.

Featured image from iStock/skodonnell.