Businesses in Great Britain have begun stocking up on the bitcoin cryptocurrency to be prepared in the event their computers are affected by a ransomware cyberattack, The Telegraph reports.
After the attacks against Britain’s National Health Service by the WannaCry ransomware program, major companies within the country are reportedly afraid the same could happen to them at some point in the near future. Rather than admit to having their information compromised and risk losing customer trust, these businesses are prepared to pay the ransom with their stockpiles of bitcoin.
According to the former Ministry of Defense cyber chief Paul Taylor, these companies are ready to do whatever it takes to keep from having a breech go public, including tasking employees with setting up digital wallets and monitoring the price of bitcoins to be ready to buy at a moment’s notice. Many, including former FBI adviser Steve Chabinsky, confirm this information despite companies not releasing it to the public for obvious reasons.
At present, at least 500 companies in Britain have an average of 23 bitcoins to their names specifically in the event of a ransomware attack, claims software company Citrix, with others looking into the cheaper alternative of ethereum. This strategy seems to be born out of the sentiment that it is cheaper and easier overall to simply pay a hacker the ransom they demand rather than report a breach to the police and risk the public learning about it. This would, however, come with the potential hazard of hackers identifying these companies and attacking them specifically to raid their supply of bitcoins. On the other hand, this strategy could easily backfire on the criminals, as there is on way of telling how much a bitcoin would be worth on any given day, meaning they could easily target people who could not afford to pay even if they wanted to.
With the massive rise in the value of bitcoin as well as prevalence of ransomware attacks, this strategy may become more popular going forward. It is not, however, entirely effective. Even when giving in to a hacker’s demands, there’s no guarantee a business would have their data returned to them, essentially meaning they could be spending exorbitant amounts of money to lose everything.
Chief scientist at cybersecurity company McAfee, Raj Samani, stresses that the best course of action in the event of a ransomware attack is not to pay. He adds that, in order to best prevent a breech in security, businesses should backup their data regularly and keep their systems updated, while mentioning the website NoMoreRansom as a potential solution the problem should they fall victim to cybercrime.