Bitcoin Bitcoin Surge And The Future Of Digital Currency Post-WannaCry Ransomware Attack
Despite the connections to the recent WannaCry ransomware attack, bitcoin has surged to over $2500. This rise occurred after an announcement from the Digital Currency Group last week encouraging investors to invest in the future the bitcoin. The Digital Currency Group’s bitcoin scaling agreement is a significant step forward for the fintech industry and blockchain technology being used within the finance space.
While bitcoin is a volatile asset, caution is still maintained. Brian Kelly, CEO of BKCM highlighted to CNBC that ‘this upgrade is needed because more applications can be built on top of bitcoin and more value can be added to bitcoin.’ However, as mentioned, investors are cautious but the digital currency is gaining more momentum and attention, especially in Asia where changes in policy have made it easier to trade.
May 12th marked the start of the ransomware attack on many corporations in a range of different industries, most dramatically on the UK’s health care service, the NHS. After locking more than 200,000 computers worldwide with the WannaCry virus, hackers asked businesses to pay a bitcoin ransom of $300 at first, which then started to increase. I had a discussion with an informed blockchain expert about the effect this ransomware attack would have on the fintech industry in the long term.
“The main issue here, without a shadow of a doubt, is poor IT security, plain and simple, and potentially a scandalously systemic problem of not robust enough legacy systems management for any IT department, not just government,” my anonymous source said. One of the problems the source highlighted was the issue with Microsoft XP as Windows had ended the support on this program, as outlined by the UK Government.
A one year Customer Support Agreement was provided in 2015 so that businesses could migrate away from using XP, but in this case, not all organisations managed to make this happen. The weaknesses that were found in Windows XP meant that even government computers were vulnerable to attacks from low-skilled hackers. Two years ago, the Guardian even detailed that “NHS Scotland also has about 2,600 computers still running XP, while the trusts across England and Wales making up NHS services have varying numbers of XP computers.”
“Frankly, that is just not good enough and we totally need to up our game on this. As I said, it isn’t bitcoin that’s the issue. If it wasn’t bitcoin, it would be prepaid card, which are much less traceable, by the way,” my source said. My source continued to explain that these hackers only wanted money; what would have happened if they wanted more? ‘Imagine for a moment if a particular group of hackers wanted to – say – influence the outcome of an election, by influencing the population’s view of a government. They could use exactly the same exploit on any government system and just delete all patient or societal records, with a desired effect of loss of confidence in the current administration.
“Nothing to do with bitcoin whatsoever. That’s the real, pretty shocking story here in my opinion, with the UK government having met and decided not to pay the support fees, but implement the sunset for legacy systems principles. What should they have done? Simple. Pay the support fee and cut the sunset period by around half. It would need additional budget but it is utterly foolish not to in this day and age,” the blockchain expert said.