Is Crypto To Blame For The Rise In Ramsomware Attacks?

Last year, close to 2500 cases of ransomware attacks were registered in the world, with losses for individuals, government departments, and companies totaling $29 million. This year alone, there has already been a long list of high-profile attacks. The modus operandi for ransomware attacks is almost always the same; the ransomware hijacks or blocks files or systems by encryption, preventing users and owners from having access to them. 

In order to regain access, the victim organization or individual is required to pay a ransom amount in order to receive a decryption key that will unlock the hijacked files or system. Most of the time, the ransom in question has to be paid in a cryptocurrency, and therein, according to some people, lies the solution; ban cryptocurrency and ransomware attacks will significantly decrease as a result. But is that logical though? I think not.

There is no denying the damage that ransomware attacks cause but banning cryptocurrencies to curb them will prove to be futile. Even before the rise in popularity of crypto, ransomware attacks had always been there. It is true that after the emergence of cryptos, ransomware attacks became a much more lucrative business as attackers now had an easy and untraceable method to receive payment from victims but banning them as a result of this would be addressing a symptom of ransomware attacks and not the root cause. The point being, even if crypto is banned, attackers will always find a way to solicit payment from victims.

The focus should be on fortifying weak security systems which expose individuals and organizations to ransomware attacks in the first place. Now that would be addressing the root cause of the ransomware problem. The fact of the matter is most potential victims of ransomware are below the security poverty line—meaning they do not have the budget or resources to employ robust security measures and this gives attackers a significant comparative advantage.

Look at this fact, raising this security poverty line should be at the forefront of any efforts to curb ransomware attacks. It is not going to be easy, though. Because of the principle of supply and demand, more instances of these attacks mean that the cost of cybersecurity is also going to go up. This will mean that organizations that have scanty cybersecurity budgets like government departments, non-profit organizations, and small businesses will be left vulnerable to not only ransomware attacks but many other forms of cyberattacks.

In conclusion, solving the ransomware attacks problems is going to require an industry-wide effort to move up the security poverty line and also more education on cybersecurity because even big organizations with virtually unlimited cybersecurity budgets still fall victim to attacks. 

Banning crypto as a solution to this problem would be as absurd as banning cars in order to curb the problem of car accidents. Crypto has the potential to change the world as we know it and though it can be and sometimes it is an enabler of undesired criminal activities, it is unfair to always scapegoat it as the sole cause of such.