Bitcoin ransoms just are not what they used to be

REUTERS
Published Dec 14, 2018, 5:59 pm IST
Updated Dec 14, 2018, 6:04 pm IST
Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have long been a favourite ransom tender for cyber criminals.
Anonymity aside, of course, the big appeal was an incredible run-up in bitcoin’s value over that time.
 Anonymity aside, of course, the big appeal was an incredible run-up in bitcoin’s value over that time.

Give me bitcoin or your life. Seriously?

The people behind a rash of bomb threats made across the United States and Canada on Thursday demanded a USD 20,000 ransom to be paid in bitcoin. Authorities said none of the threats - emailed to hundreds of businesses, public offices and schools - appeared credible.

 

Frankly, the perpetrators would have been better off asking for the Turkish lira.

Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have long been a favourite ransom tender for cybercriminals thanks to the currencies’ anonymous nature. US cybersecurity firm Chainalysis estimates that from 2012 through 2017, global ransom payments using bitcoin totalled at least USD 31 million.

Anonymity aside, of course, the big appeal was an incredible run-up in bitcoin’s value over that time. It shot from USD 5 a coin at the start of 2012 to nearly USD 20,000 at this time last year, according to data from Bitstamp, one of the larger bitcoin exchanges.

Today? Not so hot.

Bitcoin on Thursday was trading at around USD 3,250, down more than 80 per cent from its record high. In the last three months alone it has plunged 50 per cent.

Even the currencies of some crisis-hit economies like Turkey have done better: The lira is up 30 per cent since August.

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