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Government, industry push bitcoin regulation to fight ransomware scourge

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By Joseph Menn and John Shiffman

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"However much crypto markets think they have created their own networks, they still rely on existing financial markets," Reiner said.

Exactly. When I have dollars I feel like I have dollars. When I have Yen I feel like I have Yen. But I get the feeling if I had Bit Coin I would have to rely on how much it's worth to the USD in order to know how I feel about it or how much it's worth. You really can't do much with it except hold it and hope it goes up in value - or use it for crime if that is what you do. Do I think it's a scam (beyond it being used for almost all ransomware and other crime activity)? Yes, but at the same time I wish I could go back in time to 2010 and mine BitCoin then cash it in (for US dollars) and enjoy an early retirement. Yes, I would have liked to be in on the scam early on then get out of it. Now? No way.

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To reduce your chances of being hit by ransomware...

Train your staff not to click on things they shouldn't. Using webmail services rather than running your own corporate mail server is not a bad idea. You can implement secure messaging alternatives with end-to-end encryption for anything you need to keep secret.

Prioritise your IT security. It is more important than any other unit in your company, so everyone else can share out what is left of the budget after IT have all the resources and staff they need.

Airgap your data. Use staff as a human bridge between systems that securely hold data and those that are connected to the internet. If that means two screens on each desk, one internet, the other intranet, then that is a small price to pay to secure your data.

Back-up regularly and properly.

Encrypt data, so if it is taken, it is of no value and you cannot be blackmailed.

Have a 'Plan B', either replacement systems or a pen-and-paper/fax/phones alternative. Engineer your workplace protocols so that you can switch to it. Treat it like a fire drill or preparation for a quake.

Never pay up. Ransomware only continues to be a problem because folk pay. With proper protocols and replacement kit, you can minimise downtime.

Note that in some countries it is illegal to pay Ransomware demands, as you are sending money to criminals.

When folk abuse tech the solution is not to ban it, nor to hand control of things to governments, but to educate users and lock up criminals. The latter requires global co-operation, which is why it is good to have viable relations with foreign regimes, rather than picking fights with them for ideological reasons.

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