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JBS admits to paying $11 million in Bitcoin to resolve ransomware attack

In this April 3, 2013 photo, Mike Caldwell, a 35-year-old software engineer, holds a 25 Bitcoin token at his shop in Sandy, Utah. Caldwell mints physical versions of bitcoins, cranking out homemade tokens with codes protected by tamper-proof holographic seals, a retro-futuristic kind of prepaid cash. With up to 70,000 transactions each day over the past month, bitcoins have been propelled from the world of Internet oddities to the cusp of mainstream use, a remarkable breakthrough for a currency which made its online debut only four years ago. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

The world’s largest meat company, JBS USA, is revealing the company paid the attackers $11 million dollars in bitcoin to resolve a recent ransomware attack. JBS noted most of its facilities were operational at the time of payment. The company had to temporarily pause production at its plants because of the cyberattack. It impacted facilities in North America and Australia.

This week a new task force of American cybercops clawed back nearly half of the ransom paid to a shadowy Russian hacker that closed a US pipeline last month.
Apparently the FBI got in by using the encryption key linked to the Bitcoin account to which the ransom money was delivered. However, officials have not disclosed how they got that key.

“The advent of cryptocurrency is fueling recent ransomware hacks'” according to Dr. James Stroud, inventor of the “Stealth coin” cryptocurrency.
Cryptocurrency is encrypted for security, but it is also decentralized, so no central authority such as the U.S. government manages it or maintains its value. Transactions and transfers involving regulated currency also do not “require” a central bank or other institution, therefore it is the perfect currency for ransomware attackers. However, cryptocurrency is not truly private and apparently is traceable.

Contrary to popular understanding, first generation cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin offer no true privacy protection. The entire Bitcoin blockchain ledger is public, meaning anyone may inspect all transactions between all accounts on the blockchain.

Analysts can infer relationships between addresses, reconstruct social networks, and even determine individual identities using big data techniques. Companies and cyber criminals can determine individual spending habits and sell what should be private information. Worse yet, malefactors can design personalized hacks that target specific people based on their spending habits.

The bottom line is that even though mainstream media claims otherwise, Bitcoin and almost all other cryptocurrencies offer nothing close to the kind of privacy that individuals expect from traditional payment systems like credit cards, wire transfers, and cash.

El Salvador is looking to make history as the first county to accept Bitcoin as legal tender. The country’s president announced plans to introduce a measure to its congress that would allow the cryptocurrency to legally pay for items. The country is teaming with the digital finance company Strike to work out the logistics if the measure passes.

The shift to digital currency has already begun in South Florida as Miami Lakes and City of Miami are now allowing residents to pay bills with cryptocurrency with PayPal “check out with crypto.”
And Jacksonville QB Trevor Lawrence, or T-Law, wants to be paid in bitcoin.


Find out how to protect yourself from a cybercrime like a ransomware hack and whether or not cryptocurrency will replace the dollar in this episode of Full Rigor with Karen Curtis as Dr. Stroud explains how to avoid cryptocurrency crime.

Episode 110: Cryptocurrency Crime