Home Monero A question no one is asking about the Colonial Pipeline ransom attack

A question no one is asking about the Colonial Pipeline ransom attack

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Studying a number of evaluations and evaluation on recent ransomware assaults, particularly essentially the most well-known one on Colonial Pipeline which paid a ransom of 75 bitcoins (about $4 million), I’m seeing a whole lot of dialogue about what the victims did mistaken and the way they will keep away from such assaults sooner or later. However nobody is asking (not to mention answering) a quite simple query: What did the hackers do mistaken that allowed the FBI to get well not less than a half of the ransom already efficiently transferred to them by Colonial Pipeline? And an much more necessary query: How did they make the error of permitting their transaction to be traced?

For anybody working with blockchain tech, it’s apparent that ransomware hackers who use bitcoin for the payoff don’t care a lot about their anonymity. Individuals coping with crypto know that bitcoin is a pseudonymous cryptocurrency, that means that it does present some fundamental diploma of anonymity, however scrutinization of the bitcoin blockchain unleashes a whole lot of details about each the sender and the recipient. And, in fact, all the small print of transfers and their quantities are publicly seen to anybody. So utilizing bitcoin as a fee technique, particularly for criminality reminiscent of ransom is extraordinarily harmful for the attackers. They are often simply traced and caught, and their cash will be seized. The likelihood that the Colonial Pipeline attackers didn’t know such fundamentals about crypto is close to zero. They would definitely have recognized there are well-developed privacy-centric cryptocurrencies tht present virtually absolute anonymity and safety to their customers.

Monero is one excellent instance; it hides all the small print of its transactions from public view, together with the sender, the recipient, and the switch quantity. And it is extremely liquid, with a market capitalization of more than $4.5 billion and a presence on most cryptocurrency exchanges. So why did the attackers not use it — or one other privacy-centric cryptocurrency? There are two attainable solutions to this query. I don’t know which one is true.

The primary risk is that they merely didn’t care. Most are in all probability positioned within the hacker-haven international locations reminiscent of Russia, China, North Korea, or Iran, that don’t have extradition agreements with the West. So they don’t seem to be afraid of the FBI, not frightened about being caught, and easily didn’t suppose the legislation enforcement businesses can be intelligent sufficient to discover a technique to seize their cash. The second risk is that they deliberately used bitcoin in order that they might be traced and clues about their location can be uncovered. On this situation, the assault would have been greater than only a business transaction; it could have been a demonstrative motion.

As I mentioned, I don’t know the appropriate reply, however there is a crucial consequence of this assault, particularly if it was a business one. Attackers are studying, and for the long run assaults, different hackers, whose pursuits are purely business, shall be utilizing higher strategies that can enable them to slide away unnoticed whereas retaining their cash (effectively, our cash) protected. So it’s necessary that corporations brace for impression.

Whereas ransomware sounds horrible for most individuals, the safety group is aware of the way to keep away from these assaults, so there isn’t a motive corporations shouldn’t be protected. A “Zero trust” architecture, with whole multi-factor authentication protection will deter hackers and forestall safety breaches. Safety just isn’t free, however latest examples present that ignoring actuality will be rather more costly.

Slava Gomzin is Director of Funds and Cybersecurity at Toshiba Global Commerce Solutions and an knowledgeable in blockchain know-how. He’s creator of Hacking Point of Sale and Bitcoin for Nonmathematicians. He’s additionally Co-founder of the Lyra blockchain.

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