Former Homeland Security official Christopher Krebs yesterday in an interview called for stronger government control over cryptocurrency, saying anonymous payments are a threat “the average American fears”.
In an interview on Late night with Bill MaherMaher asked the former director of the US Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency for his thoughts on Bitcoin.
“What will happen to Bitcoin? Where do you see that? This is in your area, I see it overturning civilization, but maybe I’m anti-intellectual,” Maher said.
“In my opinion, cryptocurrency is one of the only factors that has allowed cyber criminals to deploy a large amount of ransomware in our state and local authorities,” said Krebs. “It’s the anonymous payments, the ability to pay anonymously. And I think that’s the cyber threat that the average American is concerned about.”
Maher noted that 1,600 schools were affected by ransomware (citing a report from IBM), and Krebs added that there were also attacks on “hospitals and government agencies, I mean we had Baltimore hit twice, Atlanta, Mecklenburg County North Carolina, 23 counties in Texas, Louisiana, has been hit a couple of times. ”
“And they just want money. It’s not demanding, it’s not ideological, ”Maher replied, comparing – enigmatically – the ransomware attacks with the plot of the film Die Hard. (Shortly thereafter, Krebs incorrectly referred to the fictional Nakatomi Plaza as “Nakasomi Tower”).
Krebs went on to warn of “bad guys” running around wild when there are “no consequences”. He recommended “researching” cryptocurrencies in wallets, pressuring cybercriminal home countries to crack down on illegal activity against the US, and helping state and local governments improve their defenses.
Ransomware has increased in recent years and likely contributed to an image problem in the cryptocurrency space. A recent survey found that only 43% of respondents believe cryptocurrency is a valid payment method, and another from 2020 shows that 90% of respondents are “concerned” that cryptocurrencies are used to launder money.
Krebs, who gained prominence following his dismissal by former President Donald Trump due to Krebs’ rejection of conspiracy theories on election fraud, could align his publicly expressed views with public opinion in preparation for running for office. The former bureaucrat has also made policy proposals, such as investing in state and local cyber defense and education programs.