Hackers Behind Ransomware Attacks Likely To Be Inflating The Price of Bitcoin

by Sunny Hoi

The latest ransomware attacks illustrated to the world how hackers are targeting particular sectors and consecutively, they have demanded cryptocurrencies, ideally Bitcoin.

Arguably, cybercriminals who partake in launching ransomware attacks may be responsible for inflating the price of Bitcoin.

Cryptocurrency investors, enthusiasts, and security professionals who have knowledge of cryptocurrencies have realized the fluctuation in Bitcoin’s value.

Despite the fact that such dramatic changes hinge on several factors, it could be the ransomware that is sustaining the rise of Bitcoin.

Ransomware is a type of malware that hinders victims from accessing their system or files and requests a ransomware payment to recover access. The ransom fee can vary from a couple of hundred dollars for home users to hundreds of thousands of dollars for large companies and government bodies.

The ransom is typically paid in cryptocurrency and that cryptocurrency is generally Bitcoin. Bitcoin makes up for approximately 98 percent of ransomware payments rendered in the first quarter of 2019, as reported by ransomware recovery first responders Coveware.

Consequently, Bitcoin has grown into an intricate piece of the ransomware model.

Bitcoin has become the popular choice of cryptocurrency for cybercriminals as Bitcoin is largely anonymous. Nonetheless, Bitcoin evidently isn’t the most difficult to track, though mixer and tumbler services permit hackers and cybercriminals to launder ransom payments and keep their true identities concealed.

Cybercriminals are incredibly skilled at covering their tracks and evading law enforcement.

Bitcoin is the preferred cryptocurrency for cybercriminals since it is considered to continuously retain some value in spite of its volatility.

Furthermore, Bitcoin transactions are publicly recorded in the blockchain, which permits cybercriminals to check that a payment has been rendered.

Ransomware actors widely use Bitcoin and Monero since they may be quick and effective methods for cybercriminals to extort money.

Virtual currencies are commonly used in felonious conspiracies since they provide anonymity and may be hard to trace once the money is ultimately converted to actual dollars.

Hackers may readily write software that can automatically transmit ransom notes and assure that follow up demands are supplied. Therefore, the network for cryptocurrency transactions is exceptionally effective. In this regard, cybercriminals have developed a structure of automated ransomware attacks, which are rested on a foundation of virtual money.

If cryptocurrency did not exist, it would be difficult to envision a future where ransomware is as omnipresent as it currently is.

Security professionals and law enforcement agencies usually do not recommend paying the ransom fee since there is no assurance that the cyber actors will keep their word and permit organizations to successfully reclaim their files after payment.

Nevertheless, recently various reports appeared that revealed government and private organizations had paid the ransom fee as requested after the unidentified hackers stole data from their network. However, paying the ransom fee demonstrates to cybercriminals that ransomware attacks are profitable, which can encourage more attacks in the future.

In order to pay the ransom fee, organizations have to obtain Bitcoin, which will increase demand. Hence, the higher the market demand there is for Bitcoin, the higher its value will be.

Ransomware payments, including those related with the most lucrative ransomware attacks, solely account for a meager share of Bitcoin’s daily trading volume, which periodically surpasses $10 billion. Nevertheless, even little price increases may conceivably activate far greater price spikes.

Nonetheless, is it feasible to trace these unknown hackers and cybercriminals via payment addresses? In this instance, despite that some Bitcoin addresses are known to be utilized by some groups, that still doesn’t disclose the individuals behind it.

Hackers and cybercriminals mix their Bitcoins which renders it increasingly difficult for investigators to track the money and identify the culprits.

If law enforcement attempts to follow the Bitcoin payments, they may track the payments since the Bitcoin blockchain is publicly accessible, though cybercriminals deploy cryptocurrency mixers to throw law enforcement investigators off their track.

Cryptocurrency mixers, also known as tumblers, separate payments into smaller quantities and employ a vast number of accounts to send the Bitcoins around before they are joined back in another account. Thus, the investigator should have to be capable of following the Bitcoins until they get exchanged for actual money if they wish to figure out who was really behind the ransomware attack.

The authors behind the GandCrab ransomware assert to have generated more than $2 billion in ransom payments to the renters of its ransomware. With the possession of a significant portfolio, even a small increase in Bitcoin prices may bring substantial financial lucre.

It’s hard to pinpoint whether ransomware is accountable for the recent Bitcoin price growth, though several indicators imply it can be a determinant.

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