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According to former cybersecurity czar Chris Krebs, ransomware is a threat for the “ordinary American.”
In an interview yesterday, former Department of Homeland Security official Christopher Krebs called for better federal monitoring of bitcoin, claiming that online transfers are a danger that “the average American is worried about.”
During an interview on Late Night with Bill Maher, Maher questioned the former head of the United States Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Protection Agency about his views on Bitcoin.
“What’s gonna happen with Bitcoin? Where do you see that going? That’s in sort of your area, I see it bringing down civilization, but maybe I’m being anti-intellectual,” said Maher.
“Cryptocurrency is, as I see it, is one of the single enabling factors that has allowed cyber-criminals to deploy a massive amount of ransomware across our state and local agencies,” said Krebs. “It’s the anonymous payments, the ability to pay anonymously. And I think that is the cyber-threat that the average American is concerned about.”
According to Maher, 1600 schools have been infected with ransomware (citing an IBM report), and Krebs added that there have also been assaults on “hospitals and government offices, I mean we had, Baltimore’s been hit twice, Atlanta, Mecklenburg county North Carolina, 23 counties in Texas, Louisiana’s been hit a few times.”
“And they just want money. This isn’t anything sophisticated, this isn’t ideological,” Maher responded, comparing — puzzlingly — the ransomware attacks to the plot of the movie Die Hard. (Shortly after, Krebs incorrectly referred to the fictitious Nakatomi Plaza as “Nakasomi Tower”).
Krebs went on to say that if there are no “consequences,” “bad guys” would run wild. He called for “looking through” cryptocurrency in trade accounts, placing leverage on countries where cybercriminals live to clamp down on illicit activity directed at the United States, and assisting state and local governments in improving their defences.
Ransomware has been on the rise in recent years, and is possibly adding to the cryptocurrency industry’s image issue. According to one recent survey, only 43% of respondents think cryptocurrency is a legitimate means of payment, although another poll from 2020 reveals that 90% of respondents are “concerned” about cryptocurrencies being used to launder money.
Krebs, who came to fame after being dismissed by former President Donald Trump for openly dismissing voter manipulation conspiracy theories, may be aligning his publicly expressed opinions with mainstream culture in preparation for a bid for office. The retired bureaucrat has also suggested legislative reforms such as spending in cyber security and education systems at the state and local levels.