Cryptocurrency is a word that has become more commonplace in conversation, especially over the last few years as the crypto market has expanded and hit the mainstream news. It all began back in 2009 with Bitcoin, and now there is estimated to be over 10,000 different digital currencies, of which around 50 have a market capitalization of over $1 billion (as of writing this today, 03/11/2022).
So, it is fair to say that this medium of currency exchange is here to stay. There are even a couple of countries, namely Sierra Leon and Central African Republic, that have accepted Bitcoin as an official legal tender.
But can these digital currencies be truly trusted? Unlike more traditional/physical currencies that are generally backed by the governments of their respective countries, cryptocurrencies is a digital platform operated by a decentralized private system – and this can lead to some problems, for example:
- Stability – Cryptocurrencies are volatile and can fluctuate greatly in value. For example, Ethereum (the second largest crypto) roughly doubled in price between July and December 2021. Also, it was well documented how Tesla affected Bitcoins’ value when they bought £1.5B in February 2020, only for them to make a U-turn on this investment by Elon Musk’s Tweet in May 2021. During this period it rose from the initial purchase price of $36k to $44k (a few days later). It then went on to peak at $58k before reducing back to the mid-$40k’s. It is currently trading at $20k.
- Security – Although cryptocurrencies are underpinned by blockchain technologies they have been prone to large cyber-attacks, frauds and hacks which have led to individuals losing their private digital keys, and essentially allowing unscrupulous others to gain access to their holdings.
Then there is matter of how cryptocurrency has greatly assisted the growth of the Black Market and the Dark Web. In short, criminals love it. For example, in the last 3-months of 2019 the illegal activities of buying drugs and credit card information rose by 60% to $600m. Now, in 2022, this market is estimated to be in excess of $2B. This is fuelled because cryptocurrency wallet is something that can be possessed and controlled without going through a third party (like a bank). It is therefore the choice for underworld and scammers – and Bitcoin is the criminal cryptocurrency of choice.
This then brings me on to how cryptocurrency can have a direct effect on organisations around the world, specifically due to cyberattacks. If a business has had a serious malware breach, and the only access to their data is now encrypted, then the Boardroom may suddenly be forced into talking about Bitcoins. Also, the chances of this type of conversation happening is becoming more frequent due to the increase in the volume and severity of cyberattacks:
- 7 out of 10 SMB’s had a cyberattack incident between 2018-20, and according to ‘Cyber Security Breaches Survey 2022’, 40% of UK businesses identified at least one in the past 12-months.
- Ransomwares are 60-times more destructive now than they were 5-years ago
- A successfully destructive malware attack is estimated to cost company on average £2m – due to loss of earnings, goodwill, and ransom fee (if paid)
Of course the expert advisors in this field state that a ransom fee should never be paid. They rightly say that it ‘increases the likelihood of repeat attacks’, and also that it is ‘incentivising criminals to run more attacks due to the financial benefits’. This is all good-and-well in theory, but in reality if your company’s activities grind to a halt then the impact to you customers could be huge, and every day in downtime could have a significant impact on your organisations’ future going concern. So what do you do?
Well, with any luck your FD may have hedged against the inevitable cyberattack by buying Bitcoin back in 2018 when they were trading at around $4k. I remember reading an article at the time that some large corporations were undertaking this activity. But of course this isn’t the answer, it may now look good on the balance sheet, but paying a ransom should never be encouraged. The answer is actually far simpler – Securely back-up your data.
Realistically there is no excuse in this day and age for an organisation having a cyberattack that encrypts their data so that it can no longer be accessed. There are continuity solutions that exist that will be able to recover data, ensure it is ‘clean’ of any virus, and then quickly restore it. Will this be instantaneous? Possibly not. There will be a managed period to ensure that the recovery is done safely and correctly, but an organisation could be up-and-running again within minutes/hours, depending on the timelines that are needed to be met. But, rather than having to revert to pen and paper for weeks-on-end, any risk can be mitigated so that any interruptions from a cyberattack are minimal.
So, a major cyberattack has occurred, you now have 3 choices:
- Do you buy into a volatile cryptocurrency, fund criminal activities, and have no guarantee that you will get your data back? Or,
- Your business stops, you can no longer serve your customers, and you risk the long-term consequences of this to your organisation? Or,
- You get a secure data backup solution in place with a reputable third-party organisation that will provide off-site immutable data instances that can be quickly recovered into a DRaaS platform and accessed over the internet?
The answer is a simple one. In short, cryptocurrency is here to stay, but do not rely upon it to get you company out of trouble!
With over 25-years of providing cloud and continuity services in the UK, ADAM Continuity are the safe pair of hands to ensure that you should never have the dilemma of having to pay a ransomware fee. Speak to us, the experts, and let us safely manage your data and ensure your businesses lights stay on!