In Ransomware Battle, Bitcoin May Actually Be an Ally

Critical Infrastructure Security
Endpoint Security
Fraud Management & Cybercrime

Webs of Criminality Are Recorded on Bitcoin’s Blockchain

June 17, 2021    

In Ransomware Battle, Bitcoin May Actually Be an Ally
A bitcoin mining facility in Farnham, Canada, run by Bitfarms. (Photo: Bitfarms)

The role of bitcoin in the ransomware payments pipeline is clear: it’s enabled fast, enormous payments with some degree of privacy.

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How to deal with bitcoin and other crytocurrencies in the battle against ransomware is the subject of a spirited debate. Some have labelled bitcoin as a prominent foe and, as in this Wall Street Journal opinion piece, called to ban it. Others say the payment method used for ransoms is largely a red herring. If bitcoin was gone, the traditional banking system would be used.

What should be done about bitcoin in the battle against ransomware? Actually, the status quo isn’t so bad. 

Disrupting the flow of money to criminal enterprises is a traditional law enforcement technique. If the money stops flowing, or it becomes too onerous or risky to get paid, criminals tend to move to the next scheme that satisfies the risk-reward balance.

Policy makers and governments are looking for disruptive levers to slow a siege against businesses and critical infrastructure. Ransomware has reached a scale that it’s becoming a political problem for leaders and a tense…