Back in May, a large number of people across the world got attacked by a malware. This malware, known as WannaCry was designed to lock folks out of their computers till the victims pay a particular amount in Bitcoin to the attackers.
Why Bitcoin, you may ask? Bitcoin is not only an easy form of payment, it is also anonymous. This brings us to the subject matter, how scam helped the growth of Bitcoin.
Bitcoin and WannaCry
The WannaCry attack began in Europe on the 12th of May. The malware acted by exploiting the security flaws on Windows PC. The fact that these attackers got paid in Bitcoin sparked a renewed interest in Bitcoin, and how it makes it easier for criminals to get their ill-gotten wealth.
According to an article in Financial Times, Countries are working hard to limit illegal activities backed by money. In fact, EU outlawed the use 500 Euro Bills as a means of achieving this goal. The writer argued that Bitcoin has allowed crime to grow without contributing anything productive.
Now, we cannot just ask that Bitcoin be made illegal simply because it’s a tool that makes crime more efficient. No, that is impractical. It’s no different from asking that Dollars be made illegal because it’s a tool for criminals. However, it still does not change the fact that Bitcoin is a favorite among criminals. Hence the increase in ransomware attacks.
Bitcoin and Scam
I don’t think it is arguable that Bitcoin has helped ransomware attacks. It is the extent to which it has helped that is arguable. The increase in sophistication of hackers has surpassed internet and computer security. As a result, malware attacks are on the rise.
You should know that Bitcoin is not completely track-proof. Given the proper technical know-how, it can be tracked. Yes, there is no name attached to the wallet, but the wallet and transaction between wallet can be viewed by the general public. This makes it possible for law enforcement authorities to track transaction, and if done properly, trace Bitcoin back to its owner. Don’t be surprised, it has been done before. Back in 2013, this exact method was used to bust one of the largest Bitcoin using drug markets in the world.
The major thing to note is that when authorities tried using this method to arrest the hackers behind WannaCry, they discovered that the attackers the three wallets used by the attackers still contain the collected Bitcoins. They are yet to figure out exactly how to launder the Bitcoin.
Why is Bitcoin Perfect for Scam?
Users of Bitcoin are also prone to being defrauded and scammed. The structure and lack of regulation of Bitcoin makes it, even more, easier to achieve this. In fact, its very nature encourages fraud. Think about it, once it has been stolen or conned, there is no way of getting it back. You can’t even reverse the transaction.
Something like this occurred in Maryland recently. A retired man saw a car ad online and was interested. He didn’t know that the ad was placed there by scammers looking to make some quick money. The ad asked prospective buyers to send the car payment using Bitcoin ATM. The old man made the payment and lost a significant amount of money. There was no way of canceling the transaction when he realized that it was a scam and he could not retrieve his lost funds.
Bottom line is, the ability to remain anonymous makes Bitcoin perfect for use by criminals, but the fact that your fund movement can be viewed by anyone balances it up. Basically, states should try to reduce the illegal uses of this cryptocurrency, but not at the expense of the legal users.