In 2021, the FBI recorded more than 3,700 ransomware attacks, resulting in $49 million in losses. When organizations do pay the ransom, they typically do so in cryptocurrency. In fact, 98% of ransomware payments are made in Bitcoin.
As experts in cybersecurity in Miami, we know first-hand that anyone can become the victim of a ransomware attack. Regardless of whether you would choose to pay the ransom or forfeit your data, it’s important to understand the link between cryptocurrency and ransomware.
Cryptocurrency and Ransomware: What’s the Link?
With ransomware attacks, cybercriminals take a person’s data hostage via encryption and demand money in return for access to the data. Encryption prevents the person from opening or accessing their data. More often than not, these threat actors demand payment in cryptocurrency.
Why do threat actors demand payment in cryptocurrency?
There are a few reasons:
- Easy access
- Quick payments
Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin allow for payments to be made anonymously, which makes it easier for cybercriminals to get paid ransoms without being traced. Transactions on the blockchain are challenging to track.
Bitcoin operates on a public blockchain, which means that all transactions are visible to the public. However, there is no easy way to determine the owner of the account.
Some cryptocurrencies have extra privacy features that make it even more challenging to track payees.
Cybercriminals can make tracking even more difficult through obfuscation techniques. These techniques help them avoid detection by increasing anonymity.
For all of its benefits, the anonymity of cryptocurrencies makes it easy for bad actors to carry out cyberattacks like ransomware without getting caught. In addition, cryptocurrencies can be transferred from one location to another in an uncontrollable and untraceable way.
Although these transactions are not impossible to trace, the process is difficult and resource-intensive.
Many experts agree that crypto has helped fuel the ransomware-as-a-service (RaaS) industry and is part of the reason for the rise in ransomware attacks in recent years. It’s easy for victims of ransomware attacks to purchase Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies and pay ransoms online through a system that allows for anonymity.
In many ways, cryptocurrency has rewarded cybercrime by making it increasingly harder to track payments. Today, cybercriminals can choose from a range of different cryptocurrencies, making it even more difficult to catch them.
Prepare for Ransomware Attacks with Help from a Cybersecurity Company in Miami
As long as cybercriminals continue to profit from ransomware attacks, they will continue. While there is no surefire way to protect yourself or your organization against these types of attacks, there are steps you can take to prepare for them, including:
- Backing up your data regularly
- Investing in endpoint detection and response (EDR) tools, which go beyond the baseline antivirus protection
- Training team members on cybersecurity best practices and how to detect phishing emails
- Encrypting data
- Using multi-factor authentication
Working with a professional and experienced cybersecurity company in Miami can also help protect against ransomware attacks. The right team will help implement systems and protocols to help prepare for and protect against cyberattacks.