In an interview with CNBC, cybersecurity firm FireEye’s CEO Kevin Mandia said that the advent of cryptocurrencies is closely related to the increase in ransomware attacks. Mandia thinks cybercriminals capitalize on crypto networks’ privacy incentives to hijack systems and collect payments while flying under the radar as there are unlimited, risk-free opportunities for such intrusions.
Mandia also opined that outlawing ransom payments will not guarantee results while referring to the Colonial Pipeline case from last month. The company reportedly paid $5 million in ransom following a network-wide hack, although U.S law enforcement later recouped a considerable portion of this payment.
In Mandia’s view, its imperative for governments to undertake diplomatic measures and ensure that manipulation of cyberspace’s anonymity carries heavy risks.
Several leading voices in the market disagree with Mandia’s opinion and the general notion that links cryptocurrencies with criminal activities. For instance, Katie Haun, a partner at Andreessen Horowitz and a former federal prosecutor, asserts that it’s simply a matter of people seeing authorities work on cases where crypto was used as the tool of choice by the criminals.
Former NSA hacker, David Kennedy, who now runs the security firm TrustedSec, is a proponent of making ransom payments illegal. He believes a law could potentially deter victims from submitting to the demands of hackers and lead to a decline in such activities.
However, he contends that outlawing ransom wouldn’t be feasible in the short term as some companies have to struggle before reclaiming their systems from the attackers.