The Role of Cryptocurrency in Ransomware

Over the past few years, ransomware has consistently ranked as one of the most common cyber threats facing consumers and businesses alike. As you may know, this troubling form of malware is characterized by its ability to encrypt the victim’s files while demanding payment to have the restriction lifted. In the past, ransomware generally demanded payment in the form of credit card, debit card or bank transaction. Now, however, most ransomware demands cryptocurrency.

What Is Cryptocurrency?

Cryptocurrency is a decentralized virtual currency, such as Bitcoin, Ethereum and Litecoin, that’s characterized by the use of cryptography. There’s no bank, financial institution or government that backs it. Instead, it uses a public exchange featuring ledgers that are available for anyone to see.

Cryptocurrency Is Anonymous

You might be wondering why ransomware demands payment in the form of cryptocurrency. Well, there are several reasons for the rise of cryptocurrency-based ransomware, one of which is the fact that it’s anonymous. While cryptocurrency doesn’t offer complete anonymity, it offers significantly greater protection of the respective parties’ identities than traditional payment methods. As a result, hackers prefer it.

Cryptocurrency Is Fast and Verifiable

Another reason ransomware demands payment in the form of cryptocurrency is because it’s fast and verifiable. Other forms of payment may take several days to complete. In comparison, cryptocurrency transactions are near-instantaneous. When a ransomware victim makes a cryptocurrency payment, the hacker will receive it almost instantly.

Cryptocurrency Is Used for Black Market Transactions

There’s no denying the fact that cryptocurrency has legitimate uses. Several large and well-known companies, including Newegg.com, accept cryptocurrency. Unfortunately, though, cryptocurrency is also used for black market transactions, specifically those on the dark web. As a result, hackers often demand it so that they can make illicit purchases on the dark web.

Is Ransomware Asking You for Cryptocurrency?

If you discover a ransomware infection that demands payment in the form of cryptocurrency, you should consider scanning your computer or device for malware using anti-virus software. Depending on the type of ransomware with which your computer or device is infected, it may not actually encrypt your files. Non-encrypting ransomware such as this is easier to remove, and in some cases, anti-virus software can eliminate it.

Even if anti-virus software doesn’t remove the ransomware, you still shouldn’t pay cryptocurrency or any other form of currency to the hacker who’s behind it. There’s no guarantee that paying the ransom will allow you to regain access to your files. The hacker may simply fail to lift the restriction, or the hacker may demand additional cryptocurrency.