Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Ransomware Is Increasingly Impacting Day-to-Day Life

Heather Kelly, Washington Post:

The recent spate of high-profile ransomware incidents is exactly what cybersecurity professionals have been warning about for years. But it’s partially the impact on everyday people — far from the executive suites, cybersecurity companies, or government agencies that regularly fret about the criminal enterprise — that has made the risk more visible. The ripple effects of ransomware can result in everything from mild inconvenience to people losing their lives, and it’s only increased in frequency during the pandemic.

“It’s not only that it’s getting worse, but it’s the worst possible time for it to happen,” said Robert Lee, chief executive of Dragos, an industrial cybersecurity firm. He says on average, there are likely 20 to 30 big ransomware cases happening behind the scenes in addition to the ones making headlines.

Perhaps the most striking thing about this article is that there is only a passing mention of Bitcoin — and nothing about cryptocurrency more generally — even though these attacks are only possible because of cryptocurrency.

Stephen Diehl (at the time I am writing this, Diehl’s post is unavailable for some reason, but it is on the Wayback Machine):

The singular reason why these attacks are even possible is due entirely to rise of cryptocurrency. And is entirely enabled by this one technology, it could not exist otherwise.

[…]

Cryptocurrency is the channel by which all the illicit funds in this epidemic flow. And it is the one channel that the US Government has complete power to reign in and regulate. The free flow of money from US banks to cryptocurrency exchanges is the root cause and needs to halt. Cryptocurrencies are almost entirely used for illicit activity and investment frauds, and on the whole have no upside for society at large while also having unbounded downside and massive negative externalities.

There are good examples of cryptocurrency being used as a workaround for restrictive government policies, in much the same way as encrypted messaging. But the incentives for bad actors to abuse financial systems are so much greater.