Cryptocurrencies, crime and enterprise cyber attack

January, 2018

Cryptocurrencies have grown in valuation and impact, drawing attention from nation-state threat actors. Bitcoin has been the primary currency in which cyber criminals have demanded their ransoms. Understanding the implications on cyber threats will help organizations plan and react to changing situations.

The whitepaper draws on extensive research and resources to give you a thorough understanding of the principles driving cryptocurrencies, how they are useful for cyber crime, and how this will likely impact cyber attacks against enterprises.


Key points from this paper:

  • The increased liquidity of cryptocurrencies is supporting larger ransom/extortion payments. This, coupled with innovations that make the tracing of payments increasingly difficult, makes it likely that enterprise businesses will face more frequent or higher impact cyber attacks.
  • Any increase in ransom/extortion demands is likely to correlate with available liquidity, and innovations within the cryptocurrency market that allow greater anonymity.
  • Cryptocurrencies and distributed ledger technologies are evolving so rapidly that regulation and risk assessment is proving difficult.
  • Increased interest from regulators means that financial institutions investing in cryptocurrencies and blockchain technologies face increased risks around Know-Your-Customer (KYC) and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) action.
  • Criminals are closely following changes that may help them benefit from the proceeds of digital crimes, greater risk appetite linked to larger cryptocurrency liquidity, transaction speeds, and using degrees of obfuscation.
  • Criminals are also discussing new forms of extortion such as blackmailing organizations with disclosure of breaches of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) to leverage ransom payment in-line with GDPR fines (maximum fine of 4% of turnover).


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