57% of UK Businesses ‘Stockpile Bitcoin’ to Pay Hackers

New research shows that up to 57% of UK businesses are stockpiling bitcoin to pay off cybercriminals in the event of a hack.

Also read: The Podcast: Voorhees on the ShapeShift Hack

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UK Firms Willing to Pay

bitcoins stockpileThe surprising results, published by security firm Citrix this week, demonstrate the exposure businesses feel to online attacks – and that Bitcoin is widely considered as a solution.

Specifically, of 250 companies surveyed, 36% of those with between 250 – 500 employees said they were “building a ready stockpile of digital currency,” a commentary by Professional Security notes. For companies with between 500 – 1,000 employees, the figure rises to over half – 57%.

The research found that perceived risk of exposure decreases with company size and relevant infrastructure. While the figure decreases for large firms of over 2,000 employees – just 18% of these “seeing a need for building their digital currency stockpiles” – over 35% nonetheless said they were willing to pay out more than £50,000 to hackers in the event of an attack to regain access to data.

“These findings emphasize the importance of building a robust IT network that safeguards users from cyberattacks,” Chris Mayers, chief security architect at Citrix, said.

“Using dedicated techniques, such as encryption and virtualization, companies keep data safely locked away and inaccessible to hackers – protecting them from costly breaches and significant reputational damage.”

CEOs at a Loss

Recent high-profile security breaches, which were paid off with bitcoin may well continue to influence businesses’ decisions to be forearmed in the event of an unexpected emergency. Businesses may also have taken note from the recent breaches at SWIFT, which affected over $80 million of customer funds.

“Today’s threat landscape is more advanced, more determined and better equipped than ever before to exploit the weaknesses of organizations,” Mayers added.

Bitcoin stockpiling appears to be infiltrating the security practices in all corners of business – including, Technology Review notes, Cornell University, whose treasurer is apparently following in the footsteps of CEOs.

Emin Gün Sirer, a professor at the department of computer science at the institution, made the claim on Twitter last week:

Are the reactions proportionate? The Citrix research suggests that for small businesses, improper practices are too often being covered up with solutions such as a digital cash stockpile for extreme circumstances.

13% of those firms with fewer than 500 employees “have admitted to never serializing their backup data files” while almost one third consider UK government protection in the form of literature to be inadequate.

The UK government guidelines of cybersecurity were last updated in 2015.

What do you think about the findings? Let us know in the comments below!

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