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A former head of UK cybersecurity has expressed concern that ransomware incidents are getting close to getting out of hand. Ciaran Martin has also called for laws to prevent people from paying bitcoin to cyber criminals.

Former official claims Most cyber criminals are based in Russia

During an interview with The GuardianMartin, who headed the National Cyber ​​Security Center (NCSC), pointed out that insurance companies indirectly fund organized crimes in ransomware incidents.

Martin believes that companies’ insurance claims through ransomware attacks help perpetuate the criminal circle. In addition, the former cybersecurity officer argues that national health systems could be affected by such attacks during the pandemic:

I see this as so avoidable. Right now, companies have incentives to pay ransom to make sure all of this goes away … You need to seriously think about changing the insurance law and banning these payments, or at least a large-scale consultation with the industry.

The former NCSC official says the problem lies in the lack of legal barriers that keep companies from paying ransom.

The Guardian quotes him as saying that most of the threat actors come from Russia and some other former Soviet states. “People pay bitcoin to criminals and demand cash back,” adds Martin.

Ransom payments to cyber gangs are not prohibited under UK law

While UK law strictly prohibits ransom payments to terrorists, the rule does not apply to cyber criminals. The report provides the following explanation:

British extortion laws prohibit ransom payments to terrorists and were largely designed in response to the threat of kidnapping. But cyber attacks are not carried out by terrorist groups, so there is no barrier to paying the ransom – and it is possible to file an insurance claim if no personal data was involved.

Per one report shared with, malware lab Emsisoft said 2020 was another “banner year for cyber criminals” during ransomware incidents in the United States.

Also an investigation by blockchain analysis company Chainalysis found it that cryptocurrency-related crime has decreased significantly. The criminal share of all crypto activity has dropped to just 0.34% by 2020.

What do you think of the former intelligence officer’s concerns? Let us know in the comments below.

Image Credits: Shutterstock, Pixabay, Wiki Commons

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