As CCN earlier reported, WannaCry has infected more than 36 000 computers. Users of affected machines are prompted with the following screen:
The malware WannaCry automatically encrypts files on the computer and demands the user to send $300 in bitcoin to a particular bitcoin address.
36,000 detections of #WannaCry (aka #WanaCypt0r aka #WCry) #ransomware so far. Russia, Ukraine, and Taiwan leading. This is huge. pic.twitter.com/EaZcaxPta4
— Jakub Kroustek (@JakubKroustek) May 12, 2017
For the last weeks, we have seen a dramatic surge in cyptocurrency prices with bitcoin leading the way. The first thing I reacted to when I read other news articles about WannaCry was the press’ immediate “conclusion” that this is a targeted attack on multiple governments (even Russia is hit).
I do not believe that’s the case. I believe that the guys (and girls) behind this massive Windows-attack might be interested in one thing only, money (or rather bitcoins). I do not believe for one second that they have targeted specific companies nor countries. They have money on their mind.
Was the bitcoin price surge a part of the attack?
Then I started to wonder, what if these “hackers” are so sophisticated and powerful that they have been able to manipulate cryptocurrency prices? And then started the attack once they were satisfied with their gains? What you should consider is that bitcoin and ethereum are still small compared to other stocks and commodities; it’s much easier to manipulate cryptocurrencies than e.g. Gold.
I find it strange that the hackers have given users of the infected computers such a short timeframe to unlock the malware. There are two reasons I can think of:
- They want to create chaos and uncertainty for cryptocurrency holders
- They want to dump their coins fast
I cannot believe they want bitcoins sent to their addresses and expect “ordinary people” with no understanding of bitcoin to be able to buy and send them bitcoins within the respected timeframe. The attack seem to have started on May 12th (a Friday) and banks are closed during the weekend. It just doesn’t make any sense to me.
As you can see from the graph above, the Bitcoin price was negatively affected by the announcement of WannaCry. My guess is that there are some that have made a lot of money by shorting Bitcoin the last couple of days.
What will happen with the bitcoin price next?
I’m afraid that we have seen the highest high for bitcoin this year. I could be very wrong (and I hope I am), but something tells me these last couple of weeks have been “fishy”. There could be some very adverse effects for bitcoin and cryptocurrencies in general caused by the massive malware campaign WannaCry. Politicians and police authorities can put their combined effort into preventing malware attacks like WannaCry by implementing stronger regulations on cryptocurrencies (exchanges and withdrawals). In the worst cases, banks may be banned from accepting deposits or withdrawals from bitcoin exchanges. If they see that bitcoin can harm their economies, they will throw everything they got towards blocking and making bitcoin illegal.
Yes, I do know that cryptocurrencies will survive either way, but mass adoption might be much tougher to accomplish.
These are just my thoughts, I believe the following week(s) will give us a better idea what this major attack will do to cryptocurrencies in general.
If you got a lot of funds in bitcoin, ethereum or any other cryptocurrency, I would take my profits and wait with entering the market again until the dust settles. Be aware; I like to play it safe (and I could be wrong). At least secure some profits for now (ensure you won’t lose it all).