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British firms stockpiling Bitcoin over ransomware fears

Half of large UK businesses have built a stockpile of digital currency in case of a ransomware attack, according to Citrix-backed research.

However, just seven per cent are stockpiling only bitcoin, while 93 per cent spread cryptocurrency risk by investing in other digital currencies as well.

The research, carried out by OnePoll, polled 750 IT decision makers at companies across the UK with 250 or more employees.

The poll revealed that 88 per cent of the large UK businesses which keep a ready stockpile of digital currency, stockpile bitcoin. The vast majority of these companies have also invested in additional cryptocurrencies.

Fifty-four per cent have bought Litecoin but a significant proportion of these organisations have also invested in Ethereum (43 per cent), Ethereum Classic (33 per cent), Ripple (33 per cent) and Dash (29 per cent).

Thirty-one per cent believe a stockpile of digital currency might make the business a target for cybercriminals, while 18 per cent worry that it might put them at risk of insider theft.

“Initially many organisations treated ransomware as a cost of doing business – just like shrinkage and fraud in some sectors – and built a stockpile of cryptocurrency to cover potential cyber ransoms,” said Chris Mayers, chief security architect at Citrix.

“Yet this is changing as companies begin to embrace its potential as a revenue driver, as well as an alternative means of paying for staff and services.

“As British companies continue to build and diversify their cryptocurrency portfolios, vital security measures must be put in place to protect these reserves and ensure they can be used for a growing range of business processes instead of falling into criminal hands through ransom or theft.”

Mayers said it is encouraging to see that organisations are aware of the need to protect cryptocurrencies, even though most of them have not yet put the full range of security measures into practice.

“With more than one cryptocurrency, and supporting diverse business needs, security becomes both more important and potentially more complex,” added Mayers.

“Organisations should adopt the same approach as they do for data and apps: simplify security by placing cryptocurrencies under centralised control with common policies and procedures, with robust defences. Cryptocurrencies must not be managed by ‘shadow IT’.”

Many large British businesses stockpile cryptocurrency for a number of uses beyond paying a cyber ransom if required, the research stated.

It also found that 40 per cent of the businesses polled plan to use the currencies to pay providers, while 32 per cent aim to pay employees in a digital currency.

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