Banks hoarding Bitcoins to safeguard against ransomware attacks

If cyber criminals threaten to take down a bank's systems, the coins can be used to pay them off

Banks and other financial institutions are apparently hoarding Bitcoins, just in case they fall victim to cyber criminals, which could have a detrimental affect on their organisation.

A leading IT expert explained that the strength of attacks on bluechip companies such as Twitter, Spotify and Reddit have led to big companies to stockpile the virtual currency just in case their systems are taken down in a DDoS attack.

Because the coins can't be tracked like normal financial transactions, they are attractive to criminals who want to hide their identity, but this companies are willing to take matters in their own hands rather than involve the police or other invetigatory bodies when such activity takes place.

"The police will concede that they don't have the resources available to deal with this because of the significant growth in the number of attacks," Dr Simon Moores, a former technology ambassador for the UK government and chair of the international e-Crime Congress, told attendees at the annual conference.

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"From a purely pragmatic perspective, financial institutions are now exploring the need to maintain stocks of bitcoin in the unfortunate event that they themselves become the target of a high-intensity attack, when law enforcement perhaps might not be able to assist them at the speed with which they need to put themselves back in business."

He went on to explain that large-scale attacks can cause much more damage than monetary losses, so reacting fast to the demands of criminals is key.

"Big companies are now starting to worry that an attack is no longer an information security issue, it's a board and shareholder and customer confidence issue," Moores said. "What we are seeing is the weaponisation of these [hacking] tools. It becomes a much broader issue than businesses ever anticipated."

Moores wouldn't reveal which banks were buying up Bitcoins, but he explained the police were aware of the actions of the institutions and were doing little to discourage it.

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