The use of cryptocurrency has become a defining feature of ransomware. Most forms of ransomware won’t ask you to submit your credit card or bank account information. Rather, they’ll ask you to pay in cryptocurrency. A study conducted by Coveware, in fact, found that 98% of all ransomware uses cryptocurrency. Considering that most financial transactions are conducted via credit or debit card, you might be wondering why ransomware uses cryptocurrency.

Anonymity

One of the reasons why ransomware uses cryptocurrency is because it offers anonymity. Transmitting and distributing ransomware is illegal, so the hackers behind these attacks typically want to conceal their identity. If they asked for a traditional method of payment, such as a credit card, they would have to reveal themselves. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be able to accept payments from their victims. While cryptocurrency is completely anonymous, it offers a much higher level of anonymity.

Non-Reversible

Cryptocurrency payments are non-reversible, which is another reason it’s used in ransomware. If you send cryptocurrency to a hacker, you won’t be able to reverse the transaction. Your cryptocurrency will be forever gone upon clicking the “send” button. This doesn’t necessarily apply to other methods of payment. Credit card payments, for instance, can often be reversed. If you make a credit card payment — which isn’t recommended, either — you can request a chargeback with the financial institution.

Instant

Many hackers prefer ransomware because it’s instant. it can take several days for a bank transfer to process, and even credit card payments often take hours if not days to process. Cryptocurrency payments are much faster. They are processed almost immediately, thus allowing hackers to get paid more quickly.

Don’t Pay the Ransom

Whether ransomware asks you to pay using a credit card, bank transfer or cryptocurrency, you should avoid paying the ransom. Hackers engage in ransomware attacks for one reason: money. If you pay the ransom, you’ll encourage the hacker to continue his or her attacks.

Paying the ransom may not even remove the ransomware from your computer or device. There have been numerous cases in which hackers have demanded additional payments from their victims. You may pay the initial ransom, only for the hacker to ask for a second payment. And after making a second payment, you could be asked to make yet another payment. Instead of paying the ransom, you should lock down your computer — as well as your network — so that it doesn’t become infected with ransomware.