A majority of American cryptocurrency owners surveyed said they are in favor of the government increasing oversight of the $1.6 trillion crypto market to fight against ransomware after hackers used it to bilk bitcoin worth millions of dollars from Colonial Pipeline and JBS, the world’s largest meat processor.
57% of crypto owners support additional US regulation of cryptocurrency to combat the rise in the use of ransomware, according to results released Wednesday of a survey conducted by The Harris Poll, a market research and analytics company.
The Harris Poll used an online panel methodology for its survey, conducted June 4 through June 6. The survey had 2,014 respondents aged 18 and older. Surveys of this size typically have a margin of error of around 2.2%.
The survey was conducted following news that hackers used malicious software to disrupt operations at Colonial Pipeline, a petroleum products handler, and JBS, and demanded ransoms. The Department of Justice this week said it recovered $2.3 million worth of bitcoin out of the $4.4 million ransom that Colonial paid to DarkSide, the group that shut down Colonial’s operations last month, causing huge fuel shortages and price hikes.
JBS, whose products include Pilgrim’s chicken and Swift pork and beef, said Wednesday it paid $11 million to hackers whose May 31 attack forced JBS to halt some production. The payment was made in bitcoin, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Overall, 66% of Americans, including the crypto owners, favor additional regulation. The Harris survey showed 79% of so-called boomers who are at least 57 years old, and 56% of millennials, said they are in favor more oversight.
Meanwhile, 82% agree the government should be involved in helping to resolve ransomware attacks even when the target is private companies and not government agencies.
In the case of Colonial Pipeline, the FBI recovered some of the bitcoin because it had what was effectively the password to a bitcoin wallet to which DarkSide had sent the ransom money. Analysts said the FBI’s move in swiping the bitcoin from the wallet raised questions about just how free the cryptocurrency is from state oversight.
“Ransom payments are the fuel that propels the digital extortion engine,” said Lisa Monaco, deputy attorney general at the Justice Department, in a statement Monday about the Colonial Pipeline attack. The “United States will use all available tools to make these attacks more costly and less profitable for criminal enterprises.”