The reluctance of governments to close the Bitcoin virtual currency has allowed the rapid growth of ransomware, the latest being the most deadly WaanaCry. But, all that could change if the United States or China will change the priorities in the field of law enforcement.
The availability of Bitcoin has, in fact, made the crypto-ransomware business model successful and profitable, fueling a wave of cyber crime every year since 2012 has seen at least double the number of new families of malware that allow extortion.
Unless governments do not put in place measures to close the anonymous source of funding, the F-Secure Labs warn that this exponential growth will likely be limited only by the ability of consumers to buy Bitcoin.
The Bitcoin have survived and thrived during the last US presidential administration. If the US pursues all forms of potentially illegal payments, the growth of ransomware could be demolished. Otherwise, we expect to see at least double the new ransomware family that we discovered in 2017.
In 2012 there was only one family of ransomware variant known, according to the State of Cyber Security 2017 report by F-Secure. In 2015, it were 35 and in 2016 even 193.
Chinese companies have made substantial investments in large server farms needed to undermine the digital currency. The result is that 42% of all Bitcoin transactions in the past year took place in Chinese parts, according to the analysis conducted by the New York Times.
F-Secure also pointed out that the Shanghai Composite Index, one of the most important financial indicators of the country, is linked at times to the price index of Bitcoin.
While blockchain offers a better visibility on their markets, government officials in China will probably have little financial incentive to hamper the Bitcoin market in any way. The US government, however, has shown little interest in legitimizing the virtual currency as an investment.
Government officials in the US and Europe could cause great damage in the availability of Bitcoin with a relatively simple change. It might take that into Bitcoin exchange accounts are linked to a physical address. Currently, it takes minutes or seconds to open a Bitcoin account. This requirement would require being emailed an activation code before the account can be opened.
The financial exchanges would hate this change. But given the hundreds of millions of dollars that are extracted every month, it would be appropriate. If you exclude this or another similar step, the exponential growth of malware families that diffuse threats seem to be the only other option.