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Why bitcoin ransoms are just not what they used to be for cyber criminals

Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have long been a favorite ransom tender for cyber criminals thanks to the currencies' anonymous nature

Reuters 

Representative Image
Representative Image

Give me or your life. Seriously? The people behind a rash of bomb threats made across the United States and Canada on Thursday demanded a $20,000 ransom to be paid in Authorities said none of the threats - emailed to hundreds of businesses, public offices and schools - appeared credible.

Frankly, the perpetrators would have been better off asking for Turkish

and other cryptocurrencies have long been a favorite ransom tender for thanks to the currencies' anonymous nature. U.S. firm Chainalysis estimates that from 2012 through 2017, global ransom payments using bitcoin totaled at least $31 million.

Anonymity aside, of course, the big appeal was an incredible run-up in bitcoin's value over that time. It shot from $5 a coin at the start of 2012 to nearly $20,000 at this time last year, according to data from Bitstamp, one of the larger bitcoin exchanges.

Today? Not so hot.

Bitcoin on Thursday was trading at around $3,250, down more than 80 per cent from its record high. In the last three months alone it has plunged 50 per cent.

Even the currencies of some crisis-hit economies like Turkey have done better: The is up 30 per cent since August.

First Published: Fri, December 14 2018. 14:48 IST
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