PUNE: With the rise in the use of virtual currency in different crimes, cyber experts claim that the government should act swiftly to bring regulation in the use of this currency. In the recent ransomware attack by ‘WannaCry’ last Friday, in which more than 2 lakh computer users were affected, to solve the issue, the attackers demanded to be paid in ‘Bitcoins’, which is one of the most popularly used virtual currency in the Internet world. Advocate Dhanesh
Rale of Abhay Nevagi and Associates, a cyber security firm, said that ‘Bitcoins’ came into the picture in 2008 and till date, there is no regulation about the use of the virtual currency. “The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is presently examining the issues associated with the usage, holding and trading of such currency,” added Dhanesh.
Earlier in February, RBI had mentioned that it had been looking at the developments related to certain electronic records claimed to be virtual currency like Bitcoins, litecoins, bbqcoins, dogecoins and others. As per Chirayu Mahajan, a cyber expert, it is very difficult to trace the owner of Bitcoins. “To buy a bitcoin, you need to create a Bitcoin Wallet and for that, you just need to have an email id. Once a wallet is created, you can start buying Bitcoins from other Bitcoin users. There is a public ledger called Blockchain, which keeps track of all Bitcoin transactions, but it is very difficult to trace the details of the owner of the Bitcoin Wallet and so it is used in illegal activities,” added Mahajan.
Speaking on the ransomware attack, Mahajan said that cyber attackers have multiple Bitcoin Wallets. “Through Blockchain, we can know the number of transactions and amount of Bitcoin in a particular wallet, but it is difficult to check the number of Bitcoin wallets a cyber attacker has, as we are unaware of the identity of the attacker,” added Mahajan. The cyber experts said that after the ransomware attack of ‘WannaCry,’ there was a slight increase in Bitcoin prices. Officials of cyber crime cell of the city police said that virtual currency is prone to losses due to hacking, loss of password, compromise of access credentials, malware attack, frauds, etc, and so, dealing in virtual currencies can be risky. In cases of ransomware attacks, there is no surety that the attackers will solve the problem once they are paid the ransom amount.
Another cyber expert, Anil Raj, of Cybervault security system, said that ransomware attacks are common and so there is a need for people to invest in cyber security. “Many people choose to pay the ransom amount to attackers through virtual currency, which is like supporting the criminal activity,” added Raj.