Details are still continuing to emerge about the recent ‘WannaCry’ ransomware attack that recently struck many businesses and organizations around the world, but one fact that has been gaining a lot of attention is the fact that the ransomware hackers demanded payment in bitcoin. Despite the huge price increases that Bitcoin has recently seen, this latest news seems to be further evidence of Bitcoin’s continued links to crime and the underworld.
Bitcoin Ransomware Attack
Although proponents of the digital currency have been going to great extents to show that Bitcoin’s potential benefits go far beyond helping to facilitate crime and illicit transactions, the recent ransomware attack only serves to provide more fuel to the arguments that Bitcoin is helping to make anonymous crime easier.
In fact, the WannaCry attack is just the latest in a long line of ransomware attacks involving anonymous Bitcoin payments. As of writing, this attack has only netted the ransomware hackers around $50,000 in bitcoins. However, most estimates place the yearly cost of similar ransomware attacks in the millions of dollars.
The problem lies in the anonymity that Bitcoin transactions provide. Anyone can sign up for a Bitcoin wallet, and criminals seem to prefer Bitcoin transactions because they feel they are harder to trace. This is true in some ways, as the transactions bypass banks and other intermediaries thus making it easier to facilitate international transfers and allowing Bitcoin attacks to be carried out across the globe.
Law enforcement is working to better track these transactions in order to identify criminal activity. Nonetheless, Bitcoin still provides the relative anonymity that criminals desire, which is why it has garnered a reputation for being primarily associated with the darkweb. Statistics show that only around 1 percent of Bitcoin transactions occur over the darkweb, but this still hasn’t helped to quell this association.
The problem lies in the particular blockchain platform that powers Bitcoin, which is seen as less secure and more prone to fraud and criminal activities than other cryptocurrencies. The 2014 hacking of Bitcoin exchange market Mt. Gox seemed to provide further proof that the currency isn’t as stable or secure as its advocates claim.
BitCoin: Criminal Association
All of these problems have definitely hurt the currencies reputation and are probably the main factors behind many government regulators not yet taking Bitcoin seriously. Unlike the Mt. Gox incident, the recent ransomware attack has yet to do too much damage to the price. However, unless those behind Bitcoin can find a way to implement changes and rid itself of this criminal association, it will only be a matter of time before competing cryptocurrencies catch up.
Already currencies like OneCoin are showing that their blockchain technology is resilient enough to prevent ransomware attacks. While still offering the flexibility of Bitcoin, this improved blockchain technology still makes it much easier to fully track every transaction to eliminate fraud, hacking and other criminal activities.
For this reason, many experts are predicting that we could be seeing the beginning of the end of Bitcoin. Although it was a pioneer in the cryptocurrency industry, it seems that these criminal associations may see more and more investors turning towards other, safer and more secure alternatives.