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Senators from the United States have spoken out about the usage of Bitcoin in ransomware attacks.
The notion of outlawing cryptocurrencies as a response to the ransomware assaults that have hit US institutions in the last month has divided politicians in the United States, and reactions appear to be mixed.
The largest fuel pipeline in America was brought to a halt in early May when hackers infected the computer networks of Colonial Pipeline. Food packing company JBS was hit with a similar attack. Colonial Pipeline has since paid a reported $4.4 million in ransom.
Democratic Senator Mark Warner addressed the matter during NBC News’ Meet the Press on June 6, where it was put to him by reporter Chuck Todd that banning cryptocurrencies entirely could curb the growing trend where cyber-attackers demand ransom in Bitcoin (BTC) and other cryptocurrencies.
Warner disagreed that crypto should be banned entirely, adding that good things had come out of distributed ledger technology, but that its dark underbelly was now being exposed.
“I’ve got a lot of questions about crypto. There were some good things coming out of distributed ledger technology, but we are now seeing some of the dark underbelly […] and that’s why I’m focusing more on transparency,” he said.
Authorities, according to Warner, could already infiltrate some Bitcoin “systems” if they so wished. However, he said that halting the technology will only shift thieves to other technologies.
“The truth is that we can break through some of these systems, but […] if there isn’t some transparency of that payment, the bad guys will simply find another way to hide it,” Warner explained.
Republican Senator Roy Blunt said that bitcoin should not be allowed to operate behind the scenes of criminal activity, claiming that bitcoin has become the primary instrument of ransomware attacks due to its untraceable nature and simplicity of usage.
“We have a lot of cash requirements in our country, but we haven’t figured out in the country or in the world how to trace cryptocurrency. So, one, fairly easy to do. People almost always pay the ransom. There are very few consequences. And you can’t trace the ransomware — the ransom payment of choice now. And we’ve got to do a better job here,” said Blunt.