Over the past few years, we have seen a steady increase in ransomware attacks that have shut down utilities, manufacturers and hospitals. It is worldwide extortion. But Seattle Times coverage failed to highlight the key fact that would help readers understand this threat.

Without exception, the criminals behind these attacks demand payment in cryptocurrency – the REvil syndicate behind the latest ransomware is demanding Bitcoin worth $ 70 million. This is the key technology that enables ransomware, as it is the only way criminals can safely and anonymously receive extortion payments anywhere in the world. The growth of ransomware as an industry has paralleled the growth of cryptocurrency.

Cryptocurrency isn’t useful for mundane transactions like buying pizza, and it’s too volatile to act as a store of value. As an investment, it has most of the properties of a Ponzi scheme. The only place where Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have proven their worth is to enable criminal transactions. Any attempt to stem the tide of ransomware is doomed to failure without financial regulation that gets to the root of the problem.

Warren K. Jones, Seattle

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