The threat that this kind of cyberattack could bring to a community (or even to a nation) is often underestimated, probably because it appears to be benign at the surface. If we look deeper into it, it’s positioned to take over computers, data centers, networks and cloud-based environments across the globe.
Of course, the cybersecurity vendors are there to do their part, but would they be able to protect the global computing infrastructure from this insidious infection, which seems to be growing exponentially?
In my opinion, prevention strategies and mitigation technologies are not strong enough to tackle this beast. There’s only one way to deal with this, and that is, to make all cryptocurrencies illegal! Here’s why..
The Problem With Permissionless Blockchain
At the foundation of Bitcoin and most (if not all) other cryptocurrencies is blockchain technology, whereby anyone can create an address and start interacting with the distributed network, in order to purchase, sell or mine coins.
This public approach is a clear contrast with the monitored ecosystem, where each participant needs to be defined and differentiated based on the role he/she’s playing. These systems, sometimes referred to as ‘permissioned blockchain’, are developed for purpose and follow transaction rules that are aligned with the needs of organizations and economies.
The ‘permissionless blockchain’ on the other hand, which underlies cryptocurrencies, allows anyone to become a crypto miner. It thus provides an open gateway to criminals to do the same. Now, I’m not saying that all mining businesses are criminal. Certainly not! But there are some people out there who hinge on an opportunity to start a mining business and leverage on cryptomining, solely in pursuit of criminal activities. Examples of such businesses include money laundering, tax evasion, funding terrorism, and even companies running news portals or hiring unqualified journalists to illegally promote a scam cryptocurrency. The most despicable among all such criminal motivations is illicit cryptomining.
Why Criminal Cryptomining Is So Dangerous
In today’s digitized world, all it takes to infiltrate our computers is a single phishing victim — making one person download a malicious app or visit a malicious webpage! And the hacker enters the system! Most cyberattacks happen like this. The hacker enters, moves to a valuable target, establishes command and control, links it back to himself, and exfiltrates the targeted funds or data.
Cybersecurity vendors constantly work on detecting and disrupting these steps. But cryptomining breaks this pattern, making it easier for hackers to crawl in. You see, in ‘permissionless blockchain’, there’s no need for a hacker to find a valuable target or to exfiltrate anything. As long as the compromised computer is connected to the Internet, the hacker can cash in on the mining activity. On top of that, the act of illicit cryptomining can keep running undetected for an indefinite period of time! It doesn’t check because technically nothing is being stolen, except for a bit of electricity and excess processor cycles. It will thus keep ranking low in the priorities of cybersecurity, until your entire network is brought down to its knees.
How To Fix The Problem
Corporations that are well aware of the concerns of illicit cryptomining have been trying to take measures to fix the problem. But they seem to be losing the battle in the long run, as mounting such attacks is just too simple for the hackers and digital natives roaming around these days.Moreover, due to its benign nature, fighting these threats would probably remain low on priority for the foreseeable future.
Therefore, the cryptocurrency industry will ultimately be left with two choices: to switch to a completely permissioned blockchain or shut down entirely for good!
In case of the former, all the buzz around initial coin offerings (ICOs) and excitement around Bitcoins would fade off, as we’ll just be left with a securely distributed database technology, without the thrill of trading in an open network.
To those who are riding on cryptocurrency trading, enjoy the buzz while you can because its days are limited, and don’t be surprised if it all comes crashing down one day!
This is probably why, as mentioned by Brian Wallace in one of his articles, Facebook and Google have officially banned crypto ads since June 2018, as these platforms cite these ads to be “frequently associated with misleading or deceptive promotional practices.”
For those who are new to the cryptocurrency world, you might want to think twice and look into the instability of Bitcoin prices before stepping into it.
According to Enrique Dans, a professional blogger and contributor to Forbes, “The idea that a bitcoin will be reasonably stable and therefore used in everyday transactions — what characterizes a real currency — is, today, a distant illusion.”