Ransomware and cryptocurrency go back a long way indeed. So long that people have actually forgotten that the two are not really directly related but yes ransomware, as the name suggests, is somewhat dependant on the other.
It would not be wrong to say that they are closely connected to the extent that the increase in ransomware is often blamed on the rising popularity of cryptocurrencies. In the past few years, ransomware and cryptocurrency attacks have increased by a large percentage, but it is not clear if this increase occurred due to cryptocurrency even though the majority of ransoms are paid in crypto.
It is important to know that the transparent nature of these currencies signifies that they are not a very good option when it comes to hiding stolen funds, but the hackers continue to use them for ransomware.
To understand this ransomware and cryptocurrency saga, it is necessary to reconsider the relationship between ransomware and cryptocurrency to see what the future has in store for both of them.
Ransomware and cryptocurrency saga
Cryptocurrency plays a key part in ransomware attacks like Sodinokibi, Ryuk, and others. While on the one hand, most of the ransoms are paid in cryptocurrencies doesn’t change other details of the ransomware and cryptocurrency duo relationship.
On the other hand, the hackers provide ransomware as services, enabling anyone to engage a hacker from the online marketplace or purchase ransomware from the online market, and both these services require payment in cryptocurrency.
There are various other ways in which cryptocurrency is used for cyberattacks. Cryptojacking includes using victim’s computers to mine cryptocurrencies, while Adylkuzz is another form of malware, and anyone with even basic technical know-how can use them for committing cybercrimes that underlines the relationship between cryptocurrency and cybercrime.
The main reason why ransomware attackers use cryptocurrencies for payments is that its digital money that does not has to be handled physically. Hackers can easily create a labyrinth of merchant accounts to clean their money-making payments in the legitimate economic structure. This was acknowledged by Peter Van Valkenburgh, the director of research at Coin Center, who believes that it is the efficiency of the cryptocurrency rather than its secretary that the hackers seek.
Cryptocurrency exchanges are transparent, and this makes them the preferred choice of hackers. The hacker can follow the public blockchain to check if the victim has paid and given back their files once the payment confirmation has been received.
Cryptocurrency is the most high-risk place to keep the fraud money due to its transparent nature, and it becomes very tough to convert the funds into another currency. This is a bit of a hurdle in the ransomware and cryptocurrency saga owing to the danger of tracking, tracing and punishing the hackers is still very tough for law enforcement authorities. Lack of laws for cryptocurrencies, as well as increasing ransomware attacks, creates an ideal situation for hackers, and they make use of cryptocurrencies to demand payments from their victims.
Even though cryptocurrencies are found involved in the majority of ransomware crimes, it would not be justified to blame cryptocurrencies and declare them as the main cause behind these cybercrimes.