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Indian Firms Refuse to Pay Bitcoin Ransom, But Not for The Reasons You Think

Last Updated March 4, 2021 4:56 PM
Samburaj Das
Last Updated March 4, 2021 4:56 PM

A number of Indian companies affected by the WannaCry ransomware malware are reportedly unwilling to pay bitcoin ransoms due to fears of being associated in any way with the cryptocurrency.

India is the third worst-hit nation  to be struck by the global cyberattack led by the WannaCry ransomware. Some 40,000 PCs are said to be affected in the country. One cybersecurity firm stated that 60% of infiltration attempts detected were targeting enterprise Windows systems among its clients, with the rest of the attacks directed toward its individual customers.

According to a report  by the Economic Times, India’s primary business daily, a number of Indian companies left reeling from the disruptive ransomware attacks are not keen on paying bitcoin.

In quotes reported by the publication, Manan Shah, the chief executive of an Indian cybersecurity firm stated:

Fourteen clients have reached out to me in the last three-and-half days and none of them are ready to pay up in bitcoins for the ransomware attack. They do not feel bitcoin is a legitimate mode of payment.

While there have been political calls toward banning bitcoin in the past, the cryptocurrency is neither legal or illegal in India. The Reserve Bank of India, India’s central bank and monetary/financial authority, issued a public notice in February this year – a rehash of a statement from 2013 – warning Indians would have to assume their own risk while dealing with bitcoin or other digital currencies.

However, bitcoin’s growing adoption and popularity in the mainstream has forced the Indian government to act in recent months. In April, India’s Ministry of Finance formed a committee to examine and propose a legal framework for digital currencies. Suffice to say, bitcoin is soon likely to gain legal status in India, with the government planning regulations for the industry.

As things stand, the Indian bitcoin industry self-regulates itself. Bitcoin adopters will have to adhere to KYC guidelines by turning in paperwork and other details. As such, it could take up to two days from the point of application to finally load bitcoin into a wallet through bitcoin exchanges in India.

This delay in time taken to obtain bitcoin is another factor that sees Indian companies in limbo over paying the ransom. The WannaCry ransomware carries the threat of doubling the ransom after three days of non-payment and a complete loss of data after seven days.

“Companies are responding primarily in three ways,” revealed Deloitte partner Shree Parthasarathy, speaking to the publication. “Few companies have adopted a wait-and-watch approach, hoping their data will be restored. A few companies have paid the ransom and are waiting for their data to get unlocked. The most risk-intelligent enterprises are restoring data from their offline backups.”

Featured image from Shutterstock.