Saturday, May 15, 2021

Bitcoin is largely an Extortionist Tool

The NY Times reports:
The operator of a critical fuel pipeline on the East Coast paid extortionists roughly 75 Bitcoin — or nearly $5 million — to recover its stolen data, according to people briefed on the transaction, clearing the way for gas to begin flowing again but complicating President Biden’s efforts to deter future attacks.

Colonial Pipeline made the ransom payment to the hacking group DarkSide after the cybercriminals last week held up the company’s business networks with ransomware, a form of malware that encrypts data until the victim pays, and threatened to release it online. DarkSide is believed to operate from Eastern Europe, possibly Russia.

Bitcoin is using as much electricity as the whole country of Argentina, and it is mostly used for speculation and criminal payments.

I am wondering why the feds don't take measures to shut it down.

People think that bitcoin is anonymous, but those 75 bitcoin are traceable if they ever get transferred or spent. The feds could declare the amount to be stolen goods, and arrest anyone in possession of it. The extortionists might be able to pass it off to some unsuspecting sucker, but after a few arrests and seizures, everyone would understand that much of bitcoin is tainted, and to check against lists of illegal transfers before accepting any of it.

In the long run, this might be good for the digital money market. It would make bitcoin more respectable, if it were mostly used for legitimate purposes.

As it is, it is largely and extortionist tool. It is causing gasoline shortages in the Eastern USA. People should not tolerate this much longer.

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