Firms storing bitcoin ‘as insurance’ to pay hackers

Companies hoarding stockpiles of online currency to pay cybercriminals’ ransoms are doing so as a form of insurance policy, according to a leading expert.

Malwarebytes EMEA vice-president Anthony O’Mara was reacting to comments made by company founder Marcin Kleczynski, who highlighted the growing trend of companies putting thousands of euro in online currency aside to pay criminals in order to get their business back up and running as swiftly as possible in the event of an attack.

“I think prevention is the first thing that people are going to look at and after that, whether it’s bitcoin or something else, it’s just another form of insurance,” said Mr O’Mara.

“Whether you’re paying an insurance company in case a window gets broken or you hold something to pay out, it’s an insurance policy.”

Mr Kleczynski claimed companies were putting aside up to £44,000 (€50,795) to deal with ransomware attacks.

While Mr O’Mara said the Irish cybercrime landscape tends to mirror that of the UK, there is no specific evidence of companies here stockpiling bitcoin in a similar manner yet.

A recent Malwarebytes survey found that almost 60% of ransomware attackers demanded $1,000, with a fifth looking for over $10,000 and 1% of criminals demanding more than $150,000.

The research — carried out across the US, Canada, UK, and Germany — also showed that 40% of businesses are paying the ransoms demanded of them.

“It is very hard to measure the exact cost because there is the cost of paying obviously but the cost of having your business frozen for a while is much harder to quantify,” said Mr O’Mara.


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