One of the never-ending criticisms of cryptocurrency is that it can be possibly used to facilitate crime. To a certain extent, there is some validity to this as certain cryptocurrencies, particularly privacy coins, have become a tool of choice for those who wish to perpetrate crime such as its use over the dark web, its use as a tool for collecting ransoms and so on. While much has been done by regulators to prosecute the crypto-related crimes as well as prevent their occurrence, the use of financial tools including cryptocurrency for crimes cannot be completely wiped out but can be managed to a degree.
According to recent reports, hackers have successfully stolen data from five US law firms and are demanding a hefty ransom in cryptocurrency for the restoration of the data.
A Maze of Deceit
The hacker group responsible for this refer to themselves as Maze, and two of the five hacks took place within 24 hours leading up to February 1, 2020. Some of the data from the hack has already been leaked and the hackers are demanding two ransoms each worth 100 bitcoins. The first ransom is for the return of the data and the second ransom is to ensure that they delete the data rather than selling it to other people.
The method of extortion, in this case, is that the hackers have posted some sensitive information onto certain websites along with the name of the law firm it was stolen from. If the ransom is not received in a certain time, they will continue to release the sensitive information. According to Callaway from Emisoft, a cybersecurity firm, several cases of ransomware were uncovered in 2019 and the average asking price is $80,000.
According to Callaway, these incidences of extortion with the use of cryptocurrency could lead to more action being taken against firms such as crypto exchanges.
“Legal actions such as these, as well as the fact that the incidents result in very sensitive data being exposed, is likely to raise the profile of ransomware cases. In turn, that could result in the public thinking cryptocurrency is ‘just for criminals’ making it harder for crypto to become more mainstream,” he says.