Can ban on ransom payments block ransomware spread

    Recently, the FBI initiated a global operation aimed at disrupting the infrastructure utilized by the ALPHV hackers responsible for spreading ransomware. Despite this effort, the criminal group managed to bounce back swiftly and launched even more sophisticated attacks.

    Just a short while ago, the UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA) launched Operation Cronos to counter the spread of LockBit Ransomware. However, the Russian-speaking gang behind it quickly regained momentum and is now threatening to expose sensitive legal documents concerning former US President Donald Trump if further action is taken against them by international cyber forces.

    This has sparked a discussion on platforms like Reddit and Facebook, with many advocating for a ban on ransom payments to the LockBit Ransomware group. The idea is that cutting off their financial support would make it harder for the hackers to operate and potentially force them to cease their activities altogether.

    Ciaran Martin, the inaugural CEO of Britain’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), has stressed the need for such a ban following the setback of Operation Cronos and the confident resurgence of the LockBit gang.

    The pressing question now is whether a ban on cryptocurrency payments can be effectively implemented, or if all payments can be traced and blocked.

    While there are some newly developed online tools supported by blockchain and artificial intelligence that could aid in imposing restrictions on virtual currency transactions, the practicality of banning digitally generated coins like Bitcoin remains dubious. This is primarily because there is no centralized authority governing such currencies, unlike fiat currencies.

    Without centralized control, governments and law enforcement agencies face significant hurdles in controlling the generation and circulation of these currencies. Essentially, the prevalence of cryptocurrencies can only be curbed when the demand for them diminishes, akin to combating other crimes like trafficking, which can only be effectively tackled when demand and usage decline significantly.


    Naveen Goud
    Naveen Goud is a writer at Cybersecurity Insiders covering topics such as Mergers & Acquisitions, Startups, Cyber Attacks, Cloud Security and Mobile Security

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