Ransomware has been in existence as far back as 1986 and is not likely to go away anytime soon. It is the business model for internet criminals for two major reasons. First, because data owners value their personal data and second, it makes sense to extort money with the threat to make sensitive information public. The second reason is more lucrative than selling information and to collect ransom in the form of Bitcoin.
Ransomware attacks plague users across the globe very regularly. System disruptions in infrastructure, blocking access and stealing assets is common. Criminals now require payments in Bitcoin or another currency, tracing of which is difficult. In May 2021, cybercriminals disabled a major US gas pipeline successfully. Another cyber-attack resulted in the shutdown of nine beef processing plants.
The President Joe Biden and his administration have taken steps to counter such problems with an executive order and a national security memo. The problem is, not one of the efforts undertaken can tackle the problem at the root. Ransomware attacks help criminals make a lot of money and the only way to handle it is to make it difficult for them to make money. Regulating cryptocurrency and the various exchanges aggressively and limiting use is one way. Doing so will cut down use of this anonymous payment system for illegal activities. Statistics indicate that ransomware attacks rose more than 1000% between July 1st, 2020 and June 30th, 2021.
The reasons to employ ransomware are complicated and there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Experts have to develop a nuanced approach and work with other governments to make it difficult for criminals. There is no end in sight to this complex issue in the near term and experts are putting their heads together for good ideas.