Ransomware and Bitcoin

Cybercrime has become an increasingly prevalent threat for businesses, law firms, security companies and the general public throughout the world. One of the most frequent being a ransomware attack.

Ransomware is malicious software that targets the operating systems in gadgets such as computers, tablets, and mobile phones. The virus enters your hard drive and encrypts all your files, rendering them inaccessible. Ransomware removal then requires a decryption key to retrieve all data. Generally, hackers demand hefty amounts of money, with the most commonly preferred method of payment being Bitcoins. But why is that so?

To answer this, we first need to have a thorough understanding of what a Bitcoin is and how it is used for transactions. An entirely digital currency, Bitcoin does not rely on any banks or governments. Bitcoin, as a currency, today is considered to have an even greater value than gold and is becoming increasingly popular throughout the world. In fact, according to recent BBC reports, around 6 million people currently have online Bitcoin wallets. This digital means of transaction is gradually being adopted by customers who use this electronic cash to purchase various products from groceries to tickets.

However, another reason for the rising interest in Bitcoin is its preference by hackers. With the intensifying rates of cybercrimes worldwide, attackers increasingly favor and rely on this digital currency. The main reason behind this is that these transactions can be anonymized, which reduces the chances of them being identified. Even though bitcoin transactions can be traced back, however, due to lack of data, it is practically not possible to detect the recipient. Once the recipient receives the money via Bitcoins, they can easily convert the coins into cash. Moreover, in order to remove all evidence of previous transactions and ownerships, the hackers wash them away with the Dark Web, leaving no signs.

Another reason for Bitcoin to be highly favored by hackers is its ability to provide a fast, efficient and reliable method of receiving payment. This well-designed network allows the hacker to trace the victim’s payment and even generate unique addresses for each victim. Once the ransom has been paid, the process of decrypting the data for each victim can be automated.

As a result, when data is encrypted by malware on a system, the ransomware attacker demands payment in bitcoin by providing a Bitcoin address to which the victim has to send the money in order to decrypt the data. The victim thereby has to pay the money for ransomware removal to regain access to his files. Many times, a strict deadline is provided after which the number of ransom doubles.

In most scenarios, however, the crooks are not interested in the stolen information, but rather the value the victims assign to their data and the amount they are willing to pay for ransomware removal. This provides a profitable source of monetization for them. The attackers are, therefore, masterfully able to make huge profits with this service due to the ease of creating a virtual wallet, and infecting systems with ransomware.

Even though the main aim of Bitcoin was to revolutionize the currency market and evolve the way financial transactions are conducted, its involvement with criminal activity and the dark web have thwarted its reputation and hindered its progress.

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