Recently, many reports of the damage caused by ransom ware, named WannaCry, attracted public attention.
Ransom ware is a kind of malware. It automatically encrypts the main data in the infected hard drive. Then, the attacker demands the ransom for recovering the data to the victim.
Some ransom ware were developed several years ago for the first time. Recently, hospitals were targeted to the cyber attack.
My past entry: Ransom-ware and Bitcoin in hospital
WannaCry utilizes a security hole in Microsoft Windows. In real, Microsoft released a patch to address this problem in this March. But some people had not adopted this update. It expanded the damage all around the world. Microsoft had to care Windows Vista, which had not been subject to the service by the provider, to prevent further damage.
And now, the number of victims are estimated as 200,000 in over 150 countries. National Health Service (NHS) in England was also victimized.
Independent: NHS cyber attack: Ransomware hits 200,000 victims in at least 150 countries, says Europol director
One of the reasons for expanded damage is the dominance of Microsoft software. The Recent development of the internet enabled us to transfer astronomical amount of information immediately. Although its advantage is amazing, the magnitude of the risk by whom with malice is also gigantic.
On the other hand, utilization of ransom ware has a weak point as well as a real kidnapping. It is how to get the ransom. Modern cyber criminals tend to use Bitcoin to transfer money. Since Bitcoin is crypt currency, it seems anonymous. In real, however, all transaction of Bitcoin can be traced. And finally, the user has to exchange Bitcoin into real money. Stock exchanges, such as bankrupted Mt. Gox, are responsible for this transaction. At this stage, exchange always requests an identification of the user. Therefore, money laundering using Bitcoin is not so easy as imagined.
Indeed, British experts identified three Bitcoin addresses for the destination of the ransom. The total amount of Bitcoin was equivalent to only 20,000 USD.
The Guardian: Criminals behind cyber-attack have raised just $20,000, experts say
On the other hand, the price of Bitcoin is rapidly increasing. If the culprit does not exchange the Bitcoin he got as ransom into money, its value will be raised unintentionally.
Convenience and risk always coincide. We should be aware of the optimal balance of them. And when he draw the Bitcoin, he will be arrested.