Rise of Cryptocurrency Enables Explosion of Ransomware Attacks
today at 6:32 pm
“Cryptocurrency” and “ransomware” are two tech terms that you probably first started hearing around 2017 or 2018. By 2019 you probably began asking yourself what these words meant, and doing some research. Today, in 2021, you have undoubtedly realized that both of these phenomena are here to stay, both can be very dangerous and that hackers engaging in ransomware attacks rely on cryptocurrency.
Before venturing further on this topic, we need to discuss how you should protect yourself, and to do that we need to make cybersecurity a priority. An online business knows the basics of what web design is, but in today’s cyber world, the security of the website is as important as the design. When you look at web design best practices, you need to make sure safety and security is first and foremost. You have to go with an ISP and hosting service that will put network security above all.
You got to go with an ISP and hosting service who put network security above all. Most importantly, focus on password protection, and use two factor authentication, everywhere. Make sure you’re using different passwords for different sites, and be sure to change those passwords often.
Perhaps most important of all, create passwords that have both lower and uppercase letters, numerals and alphanumeric characters. Having strong passwords is the least we can do, but it’s also something that all of us can do.
In other words, it is a team effort here. You need solid network architecture, provided by companies you can trust, and you need the user to take care of business on their end. Moreover, this really is an urgent issue, as ransomware (malicious software sent by hackers to block a victim’s access to their own files/network/machine, unless they pay the ransom fee, is indeed on the rise. John Oliver, host of the HBO series “Last Week Tonight” devoted the lead story on his latest episode to the topic on Sunday night.
As Oliver noted, there are several major factors, all converging at the same time, at play here regarding the alarming rise of this diabolical and illegal practice. Like the stock market itself, this business just keeps defying logic, and continues to boom.
Sadly, this nefarious practice is very lucrative too, as $350 million was paid out to internet scammers just last year. As Oliver points out, this number is vastly underreported, because companies do not want the negative press, the publicity that might expose them to further cyber risks and the potential for very damaging lawsuits.
In addition, no individuals, or corporations are immune, as ransomware syndicates even strike hospitals. (Did you think they were going to be morally above preying on those who treat the sick?) As pointed out on Last Week Tonight, 565 hospitals were struck in the United States alone. The more digital our world becomes, the more susceptible we all become. Even everyday objects, anything with “smart” at the beginning of its name, can become an entry point for hackers.
Which brings us to the second major topic of this piece, behind ransomware, and that’s crypto. You can read and write a whole lot about cryptocurrency, and still not get it fully. Heck, most of the people who own it still really don’t know what it truly is and why it is. Ask any non Generation-Z person who is really into it (they will not be hard to find, because they will go out of their way to let you know) what block chain is (don’t say “block chain technology, see if they throw that in) and unintentional hilarity will ensue.
So if you are someone who is only entry level, or clueless on crypto, ransomware provides a double whammy. You will be forced to learn how to trade crypto as that is the currency of choice for these hackers. Why? Because being nearly untraceable and almost impossible to recoup is the feature, not a bug, when it comes to Bitcoin, Ethereum, Dogecoin, Tether et al. These type of currencies, are more liquid and fluid than any type of “real money,” are not beholden to any national government, so therefore they are not managed by any.
Which then brings us to the next factor-involved here- governments have been slow to react to this crisis. They just have not taken this problem seriously enough and law enforcement isn’t getting involved enough. It’s been a perfect storm here enabling the rise of ransomware, and with all of us at home more, and doing more things virtually, instead of in real life, well, more opportunities are therefore provided to would be bad actors.
It’s so bad that right now ransomware kits are sold online, and anyone can execute it off the shelf. You don’t need to be tech savvy to try and pull one of these scams, and that is downright frightening. And that’s why you need to be as safe as possible online and only do business with companies that you can trust.