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Crypto ransomware is a threat the average American is concerned about, says cybersecurity expert

Former U.S. Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency director Christopher Krebs warned that crypto has enabled criminals to deploy more ransomware attacks.

Image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay

Sun, 28 Mar 2021, 08:52 am UTC

Crypto adoption has risen in recent months as more companies started to accept digital currencies as a payment option and the rise in prices of popular cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin (BTC) and Ether (ETH) has attracted more investors into the market. However, a former official at the Department of Homeland Security warned that the threat posed by crypto-ransomware should be a cause of concern even for the average American.

Former Department of Homeland Security official Christopher Krebs shared his thoughts on cryptocurrency in a recent interview on “Late Night with Bill Maher.” Krebs, who is a former U.S. Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency director, warned that crypto’s use in anonymous payments could be helping cybercriminals in launching ransomware attacks.

“Cryptocurrency is, as I see it, is one of the single enabling factors that have allowed cyber-criminals to deploy a massive amount of ransomware across our state and local agencies,” Krebs explained, according to Cointelegraph. “It’s the anonymous payments, the ability to pay anonymously. And I think that is the cyber-threat that the average American is concerned about.”

Krebs noted that government agencies and hospitals have been targeted with ransomware attacks recently, showing that cybercriminals are running rampant and no longer care who they target. “I mean we had, Baltimore’s been hit twice, Atlanta, Mecklenburg county North Carolina, 23 counties in Texas, Louisiana’s been hit a couple of times,” the former Homeland Security official said.

He suggested that the government should start to get serious in dealing with cybercriminals. “If there’s a vulnerability, if there’s an exploit, if there’s money or information to be had and there are no meaningful consequences, the bad guys are going to run wild,” Krebs told Maher. “So we’ve got to change that equation.”

To successfully address the threat posed by crypto-ransomware, Krebs said that international cooperation is a must. “I think looking at the cryptocurrencies and the exchange wallets, we need to look at that,” he said. “We need to start holding some of those countries - like Russia - that allow these cybercriminals to operate in their sovereign territory with impunity, we need to focus on that.”

As cybercriminals have already targeted agencies, Krebs also stressed the need to improve their cybersecurity. “But bringing it back home we got to help state locals improve their defenses,” he said.

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