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New Battle Cry: We Need to Ban Cryptocurrency to Fight Ransomware

Attacks on Bitcoin and cryptos in general pick up steam. They are unlikely to stop.
Author:
illustration David Gothard

Here's an attack on cryptos from a new angle.

Lee Reiners, executive director of the Global Financial Markets Center at Duke Law, says in a WSJ Op-Ed  Ban Cryptocurrency to Fight Ransomware

No one is out of reach from ransomware attacks. The Colonial Pipeline hack made that clear, along with the nearly 2,500 cases of ransomware—a form of malware that encrypts computer files and holds them for ransom—reported to the Federal Bureau of Investigation last year, a 66% annual increase. In 2020 ransomware victims paid hackers $350 million in cryptocurrency. Since many victims pay ransom without reporting the incident, these numbers understate the damage.

The solutions floated after the Colonial hack—improved cybersecurity in the private sector and public-private collaboration to protect critical infrastructure—are pro forma and inadequate. There is a simpler and more effective way to stop the ransomware pandemic: Ban cryptocurrency.

Ransomware can’t succeed without cryptocurrency. The pseudonymity that crypto provides has made it the exclusive method of payment for hackers. It makes their job relatively safe and easy. There is even a new business model in which developers sell or lease ransomware, empowering malicious actors who aren’t tech-savvy themselves to receive payment quickly and securely. Before cryptocurrency, attackers had to set up shell companies to receive credit-card payments or request ransom payment in prepaid cash cards, leaving a trail in either case. It is no coincidence that ransomware attacks exploded with the emergence of cryptocurrency.

Obvious Attack

This is an obvious attack, yet it is one I missed.

I have mentioned fraud, money laundering, energy usages, and tax evasion as reasons to expect more government attacks on cryptos.

HODLers still believe Bitcoin will be impervious to governmental regulations.

I strongly disagree.

One Simple Question

Bitcoin Supporters Cannot Answer One Simple Question

What would happen to the price of Bitcoin if the US did not allow merchants and banks to make Bitcoin transactions?

Ban Bitcoin? Why Bother?

It is not necessary to ban Bitcoin to kill it. 

Alternatives

  1. Ban transactions making it impossible to get hard currency in or out.
  2. Tax Bitcoin energy use
  3. Tax Bitcoin profits at an enormous rate

Ultimately I expect the governmental method of attack will be #1 and possibly #2. 

What's the Trigger?

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The above article is most likely meaningless. It's just one opinion.  

But it will not be meaningless once the Fed or US and EU governments concur. 

There may be no hint when it happens. Tether cold easily be the trigger. 

So could a another ransom attack that wildly succeeds. 

Serious Questions

We have already seen on numerous occasions Trump putting in place absurd tariffs on grounds of national security.

Might we not see Biden do the same on cryptos?  

Perhaps it's still a far off concern, year's away. Perhaps it's this year, without warning.

However, a major coordinated government crackdown is coming and Bitcoin will not be impervious when that happens.

Bitcoin a Free Market Construct

I do not support these attacks. Bitcoin is a free market construct. 

If people want to speculate, what business is it of mine? (Other than the cause of intense speculation - The Fed and free money from Congress).

Rather, I simply point out the methods I believe governments and central banks will ultimately use to squash it.

Tether fraud is another matter. 

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