Dr Simon Moores, a former technology ambassador for the UK government and chair of the annual international e-Crime Congress, said the scale and ferocity of the attacks meant some banks were coming round to the view that it was cheaper to pay off the criminals in Bitcoin than risk an attack.
Moores declined to identify the banks buying up bitcoins but it is understood senior police officers have been made aware of the practice. The cost to businesses of an attack can far outweigh paying off the blackmailers: telecoms provider TalkTalk lost 101,000 customers and suffered costs of £60m as a result of a cyber attack last year. “Big companies are now starting to worry that an attack is no longer an information security issue, it’s a board and shareholder and customer confidence issue,” Moores said. “What we are seeing is the weaponisation of these [hacking] tools. It becomes a much broader issue than businesses ever anticipated.”