Bitcoin, the world’s first and largest cryptocurrency, is most widely viewed as a new kind of digital money. But as it matures and advances, Bitcoin is poised to create significant impact in a broad range of industries and areas beyond just the financial sector.
Dhruv Bansal, co-founder and chief science officer of Unchained Capital, says Bitcoin can change the game in network and computer security. In a new video interview with Executive Mosaic, he took us inside the history of Bitcoin’s involvement in ransomware attacks and explained how ultimately, Bitcoin might become the foundation for a new approach to how we secure our most valuable data, assets and information, even in the public sector.
“In 2008, let’s say, we had the internet, we had vulnerabilities in computers, we had people with lots of data they valued, we had encryption algorithms — why didn’t we have ransomware in that era?” Bansal posed in conversation with Executive Mosaic’s Summer Myatt.
“And I think the answer is you can’t break into someone’s computer and encrypt their files and then ask them to pay via check or cash somewhere. That’s not a practical way for an attacker to get paid. It required Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies for attackers to be able to actually get paid their ransoms,” he explained.
Although Bitcoin played a role in fueling the rise of ransomware, Bansal argued that it can also teach us a valuable lesson in how to shift our current model for cybersecurity. He asserted that as a secure software, Bitcoin itself is not vulnerable to exploits in the same way that other kinds of software are.
If Bitcoin had “any exploit that was severe enough to cause the loss of coins or funds, or the interruption or dissolution of the network, it would be being exploited right now,” Bansal said. “That’s a very unique characteristic, and that’s what leads me to believe that Bitcoin has no zero days by definition because of how monetary it is as an application.”
While Bitcoin leads the way to a new, more secure future, there will be a bit of a learning curve, Bansal warned. However, if we can get through the first order effects, the second order effects will be well worth it.
“As Bitcoin grows and software grows to embrace Bitcoin, attacks will become easier and more profitable. That sounds very scary, and to a degree, I am saying that. But I’m saying that the effect of that will be that software will have to grow and adapt to become fantastically more secure than it is today — that the expectations of consumers and businesses who use software will have more focus on security than it does today because the risk of bad software will be much greater,” he shared.