Cryptocurrencies, Crime and Enterprise Cyber-Attack

Over the last year there have been a number of substantial FinTech developments linked to clearance and settlement capabilities utilizing cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology.

Whilst these new technologies are increasingly attractive to financial institutions globally, they have also provided advanced criminal groups with new opportunities. Specifically, these developments increasingly provide the ability for cybercriminals to target enterprise organizations and successfully extort significant amounts of money (seven figures and upwards) via cyber-attacks.


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Bitcoin has been the “go-to” currency in which cyber criminals have historically demand their ransoms.

From Bitcoin to XRP, cryptocurrencies have grown in valuation and impact, drawing nation-state threat actors. Understanding the implications on cyber threats will help organisations plan and react to changing situations.

Our whitepaper draws on extensive research and resources to give you a thorough understanding of the principles driving crytpocurrencies, how they are useful for cyber-crime and how this will likely impact enterprise cyber-attacks.

Key points from this paper:

  • The increased liquidity of cryptocurrencies is supporting larger ransom/extortion payment. This (coupled with innovations that make the tracing of payments increasingly difficult) makes it likely that enterprise businesses will face more frequent/higher impact sophisticated cyber-attack.
  • Any increase in ransom/extortion demands is likely to correlate with available liquidity, and innovations within the cryptocurrency market that allow greater anonymity.
  • Cryptocurrencies and distributed ledger technologies are evolving so rapidly that regulation and risk assessment is proving difficult.
  • Increased interest from regulators means that financial institutions investing in cryptocurrencies and blockchain technologies face increased risks around Know-Your-Customer (KYC) and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) action.
  • Criminals are closely following changes that may help them benefit from the proceeds of digital crimes, greater risk appetite linked to larger cryptocurrency liquidity, transaction speeds and the degrees of obfuscation.
  • Criminals are also discussing new forms of extortion such as the potential to blackmail organizations using the threat of General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) disclosure to leverage ransom payment in-line with GDPR fines (maximum fine of 4% of turnover).





MWR is an accredited member of The Cyber Security Incident Response Scheme (CSIR) approved by CREST (Council of Registered Ethical Security Testers).
MWR is certified under the Cyber Incident Response (CIR) scheme to deal with sophisticated targeted attacks against networks of national significance.
We are certified to comply with ISO 14001 in the UK, an internationally accepted standard that outlines how to put an effective environmental management system in place.
MWR is certified to comply with ISO 27001 to help ensure our client information is managed securely.
As an Approved Scanning Vendor MWR is approved by PCI SSC to conduct external vulnerability scanning services to PCI DSS Requirement 11.2.2.
We are members of the Council of Registered Ethical Security Testers (CREST), an organisation serving the needs of the information security sector.
MWR is a supplier to the Crown Commercial Service (CCS), which provides commercial and procurement services to the UK public sector.
MWR is a Qualified Security Assessor, meaning we have been qualified by PCI to validate other organisation's adherence to PCI DSS.
As members of CHECK we are measured against high standards set by CESG for the services we provide to Her Majesty's Government.
MWR’s consultants hold Certified Simulated Attack Manager (CCSAM) and Certified Simulated Attack Specialist (CCSAS) qualifications and are authorized by CREST to perform STAR penetration testing services.