“Online threats paid off with bitcoin”
Would you pay out bitcoin if a hacker threatens to expose you or steals your computer files? Bitcoin has been linked to money laundering and different sorts of illegal activity, and it has also been linked to being a hacker's form of payment. Usually, what we see on the news tends to be massive scale hacks, but have you wondered how many of these hacks happen under the grid? Many of these attacks are made with ransomware.
“Ransomware is a type of malicious software designed to block access to a computer system or computer files until a sum of money is paid. Most ransomware variants encrypt the files on the affected computer, making them inaccessible, and demand a ransom payment to restore access.”
I recently had a conversation with a friend, and he mentioned he had received threats on violation of privacy and scams. I believe it may be a taboo subject because people don't necessarily talk about it because they don't want people to know that they have been threatened or think they are hiding something. Although my friend has never paid off any of these threats because he felt he had nothing to hide and believed it was a scam, there many who have fallen for this.
Unfortunately, cyber-attacks have been associated with bitcoin; news and government authorities have made sure to point out how these cybercriminals use crypto; therefore, crypto is also criminal. Latter makes no sense because if this were true, then it can be applied to any other form of cash. Fiat cash such as USD would be criminal because we have seen it being part of drug businesses, corruption, among others, and yet we all still use USD, does that make us criminals as well? I while ago, I heard someone say these criminals use bitcoin because it is untraceable, and this is entirely false information. Bitcoin is altogether traceable; you can trace it on the public ledger, a ledger that is completely reliable and can't be tampered with because of its blockchain technology.
I believe the reason why hackers chose bitcoin makes more sense with the statement below:
"The efficiency of the network is what criminals are really using it for here. It's electronic cash, so it’s easy to write software that can automatically demand payment and automatically demand that payment has been made."
"Bitcoin is particularly useful here because it’s fast, reliable, and verifiable. The hacker can simply watch the public blockchain to know if and when a victim has paid up; she can even make a unique payment address for each victim and automate the process of unlocking their files upon a confirmed bitcoin transaction to that unique address.
The truth is that criminals have, as usual, very strict design parameters for the tools they use because there’s no tech-support, contract, or legal recourse for a criminal whose tools fail to perform as they should. Criminals are using Bitcoin in this case because it’s a reliable system that just works. Ransomware hackers are rather like the proverbial rumrunners of prohibition: they like fast custom cars because almost everyone else is still driving a Model T."
Bitcoin is more efficient if you want to scam someone. With a decentralized currency, you can practically scam anyone in the world and receive your money in instants. Does this make bitcoin evil? No, it does not; it's a creation like many others that, if put into the wrong hands, it can be used for the wrong intentions; this can be applied to everything else. Another factor that can be considered as to why ransomware is linked to bitcoin is the fact that digital currency is relatively new; it makes it harder for law enforcement agents to track crypto down, harder but not impossible.
Hopefully, you never have to face scams, online threats, or a ransomware attack, but there are some precautions you can take, such as investing in cybersecurity or simply not opening suspicious links, emails or downloads.
By: Carolina Pérez