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The Ransomware Problem as a Bitcoin Problem

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Over at Lawfare, Nicholas Weaver makes the case that the ransomware problem is basically at Bitcoin problem:

Even the cryptocurrency community has noted that ransomware is a Bitcoin problem. Multimillion-dollar ransoms, paid in Bitcoin, now seem to be commonplace.

This strongly suggests that the best way to deal with this new era of big-game ransomware will involve not just securing computer systems (after all, you can’t patch against a zero-day vulnerability) or prosecuting (since Russia clearly doesn’t care to either extradite or prosecute these criminals). It will also require disrupting the one payment channel capable of moving millions at a time outside of money laundering laws: Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Currently, there are various methods that can degrade, disrupt or destroy the cryptocurrency space…

The ransomware gangs can’t use normal banking. Even the most blatantly corrupt bank would consider processing ransomware payments as an existential risk. My group and I noticed this with the Viagra spammers: The spammers’ banks had a choice to either unbank the bad guys or be cut off from the financial system. The same would apply if ransomware tried to use wire transfers…

This means that cryptocurrencies are the only tool left for ransomware purveyors. So, if governments take meaningful action against Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, they should be able to disrupt this new ransomware plague and then eradicate it, as was seen with the spam Viagra industry.

Libertarian techbro cranks are indifferent to inflicting damage upon infrastructure, climate, and the global financial system, and states like Russia are utterly disinterested in doing anything about it. The Order Muppet vs. Chaos Muppet distinction as applied to China and Russia holds with respect to digital currency.

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