Headline, September 06 2021/ ''' '' RANSOM KIDNAPPINGS RANKLE '' '''


 RANKLE '' '''

RANSOMWARE ATTACKS ARE DIFFERENT. Cybercriminals can ''kidnap'' a company from a far and receive payment anonymously and secure it in the form of cryptocurrency.

[Technically, cryptocurrency use is only pseudonymous, but in practice the challenge of identifying a user is formidable ].

Ransomware attacks are plaguing the United States, and in time they will plague the whole world.

With alarming regularity, cybercriminals disrupt computer systems controlling important pieces of infrastructure and refuse to store access until they are paid - typically in Bitcoin or another decentralized, hard-to-trace cryptocurrency.

In May, cybercriminals disabled one of the largest gasoline pipelines in the United States. In June, cyberattacks caused the world's largest meat-processing company to shut down nine beef plants.

Attacks on smaller entities - the Steamship Authority of Massachusetts, Baltimore's city government -attract less attention but speak of how common ransomware crime has become.

The Biden administration has taken some steps to address the problem. An executive order in May directed the federal government to enhance coordination on the issue.

A national security memorandum in July outlined better security standards for American industrial control systems. And last week, at a meeting at the White House, President Biden asked the leaders of Apple, Google and other companies to do more to prevent cyberattacks.

But none of the ongoing efforts tackle the problem at its roots. Ransomware attacks occur because criminals make money from them. If we can make it harder to profit from such attacks, they will decrease.

The United States can make it harder. By more aggressively regulating cryptocurrencies, the government can limit their use as an anonymous payment system for unlawful purposes.

In the nonvirtual world, kidnappings for ransom are wildly unsuccessful. Between 95 percent and 98 percent of criminals involved in cases of kidnapping for ransom that are reported to the police are caught and convicted. Why?

In part because at the moment when the victims are exchanged for cash, the criminals put themselves at great risk of identification and capture.

What should the U.S. government do to make cryptocurrency harder for criminals to use? First, it should adopt and enforce regulations for the cryptocurrency industry that are equivalent to those that govern the traditional banking industry.

Cryptocurrency exchanges, ''kiosks'' and trading ''desks'' are not complying with laws that target money laundering, financing of terrorism and suspicious activity reporting, according to a recent report from the Institute for Security and Technology.

Those laws ought to be enforced equally in the digital domain.

For example, some cryptocurrency services offer a ''tumbler'' feature. Tumblers take cryptocurrencies from many sources, mix them up and then redistribute them, making financial transactions harder to trace. This practice looks like money laundering and would be illegal in the nonvirtual world.

The United States should also take action to ensure that offshore cryptocurrency exchanges abide by internationally agreed-upon rules for lawful banking.

Ideally, such actions would be multilateral, but given the unlikelihood that Russia will agree to stop serving as safe haven for ransomware gangs, unilateral action would probably be necessary.

To do this, the U.S. banking system should refuse access to cryptocurrency exchanges unless they demonstrate that they are equipped and prepared to prevent ransomware payoffs.

It may seem as as if cryptocurrency exchanges operate free traditional banking, but to be fully valuable, digital currency must also be convertible to cash, so the exchanges would have a strong incentive to comply.

If greater regulation does not put an end to using cryptocurrency to pay ransoms, the United States can always consider disrupting a cryptocurrency like Bitcoin. Government hackers could disable the servers of cryptocurrency exchanges, block their Internet traffic or infect their payment systems with malware.

This would be an extreme and highly aggressive solution, one that would jeopardize the many legitimate storehouses of value that cryptocurrencies represent.

The United States does not have a ransomware problem so much as it has an anonymous ransom problem. If we change the payment system to make the kidnapping less profitable, we will go a long way toward a solution.

!A fix for ransomware attacks : We should fix the problem at its roots!.

The Honor and Serving of the Latest Global Operational Research on the State-Of-The-World, ransomware attacks and solutions, continues. The World Students Society thanks author Paul Rosenzweig of Red Branch Consulting.

He was the deputy assistant secretary for policy at the Department of Homeland Security from 2005 - 2009.

With respectful dedication to Policy makers, Law Enforcement Agencies the world over, and then the Students, Professors and Teachers of the world.

See Ya all prepare and register for Great Global Elections on The World Students Society - for every subject in the world : wssciw.blogspot.com and Twitter - !E-WOW! - The Ecosystem 2011 :

Good Night and God Bless

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