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Why “Ransomware” Attackers Demand Payments in Bitcoins?

The world came to shock after an idiosyncratic cyber-crime outburst. This was the first global coordinated attack by using hacking tools developed by the NSA. Malicious software named “ransomware” has forced down many hospitals in Britain. Several Spanish companies such as Telefonica locked down and denied data access.

The ransomware only affected Microsoft Windows operating systems. The one of its kind, ransomware data encryption software demands the ransom of $300 in cryptocurrency to grant access to users. As a result, bitcoins once again came into limelight. According to sources, more than 150 countries found affected with ransomware attack. Ransomware malicious software shut down tens of thousands of computers worldwide. The culprit responsible for such cyber chaos said to be a “wanna-cry” virus V2.0. Wanna-cry gets into the system by accessing suspicious files or by downloading data from distrusted sources. The cyber cell authority of several countries warns their users not to pay ransom bitcoins in the case of potential virus attack. Which may have led to a question; what is bitcoin? Let us dig into details and try to understand why bitcoins is so famous among hackers and attackers.

Ransomware
Source: Google Images

What is bitcoins? How is it different from traditional currency?

There is no denying; bitcoin is one of the most coveted forms of currency transactions that takes place worldwide. Bitcoin is a digital payment system invented by unknown programmer under the name Satoshi Nakamoto. It was released in 2009 as an open source software. The system supports the peer-to-peer transaction and does not involve any intermediary. This is the reason bitcoin is so eminent in the modern world.

You can buy bitcoin like any other currency using euros and dollars. You can store bitcoins in an internet wallet, such as PayPal. Several companies accept bitcoin payment such as WordPress, Microsoft, Subway, Reddit and much more. Bitcoin has changing valuation, you must have heard about Bitcoin fluctuation in financial trade.

How bitcoin helps in maintaining the privacy of the user?

Generally, we do the transaction using debit or credit cards. The card stores information about the users in form of name, billing address, company name, saving account details et cetera. The advantage of using bitcoin is that the transaction you make through bitcoin is completely anonymous. The receiver cannot identify you personally. Therefore, whenever you trade in bitcoin, you use a so-called private key associated with your wallet. Private Key generates a code so-called an address code, which is publicly associated with your account. Moreover, in that way, every transaction is recorded and signed in an open ledger that anyone can read and double-check. Bitcoin has gained prominence in the press as a technology that can facilitate crime.

Why did wanna-cry attackers demand money in bitcoins?

Unless attackers publicise their wallet addresses publicly, no one can trace transactions back to them. No one, other than the wallet owners, will know how many Bitcoins they have. Even if the wallet address becomes public, a new wallet address can be easily generated. This greatly increases privacy when compared to traditional currency systems, where third parties potentially have access to personal financial data.

Another advantage of bitcoin is that once bitcoins are sent, the reverse transaction is impossible. Since the ownership address of bitcoins will not be same, it is impossible to revert. Only the new owner has the associated private key, only he/she can change ownership of the coins. This ensures that there is no risk involved when receiving bitcoins. The attackers must have noticed that since there are many redundant copies of the transactions database, no one can seize bitcoins.

The most someone can do is force the user, by other means, to send the bitcoins to someone else. This means that governments cannot freeze someone’s wealth, and thus users of bitcoins will have complete freedom to do anything they want with their money.
According to a bot designed by the news site Quartz that is tracking the amount of money in the attackers’ wallets, a total of $55,000 is under suspicion. In the age of modern technology, ransomware kind of attack exposes the vulnerability of internet. It is only a matter of time now before an even greater, more destructive cyber-attack will hit the world.

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Aman Yadav

Pursuing Journalism course from Delhi University. Curious breed, avid writer, traveller, and movie buff. I'm a highly motivated and creativity-oriented person with an excellent proficient in communication skill. Loyal towards "show them, don't tell" business. Just a small cog in the world of big writing wheel. Dr. A.P.J Abdul Kalam once said," The bird is powered by its own life and by its motivation." He is my idol.

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