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Fox Pundit Claims Ransomware Payments Responsible for Bitcoin Bounce

2 mins
Updated by Geraint Price
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In Brief

  • Tucker Carlson believes ransomware payments are responsible for Bitcoin’s recent surge.
  • Earlier this month, a computer system error caused planes to ground across the U.S., which Carlson attributes to a ransomware attack.
  • According to Carlson, the Bitcoin purchased by the U.S. government to pay the ransom caused its price to rise.
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Far-right commentator Tucker Carlson believes ransomware payments are behind Bitcoin’s recent rise, providing spurious evidence to back his claim.

Earlier this month, a computer system error at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) triggered a nationwide ground stop on Jan. 11 that disrupted more than 11,000 flights across the United States. According to a preliminary review, contract personnel “unintentionally deleted files” that caused that disruption. The FAA said it “has so far found no evidence of a cyberattack or malicious intent.”

Carlson Claims Malicious Intent

However, Carlson instead believes the disruption was in fact a cyberattack with malicious intent, specifically a ransomware attack. He further argued that the ransom payments in Bitcoin are responsible for the cryptocurrency’s recent surge.

According to the Fox News pundit, Bitcoin has been trending upwards since the nationwide ground stop on Jan. 11. Since he believes it was caused by a ransomware attack, Carlson claims it required the U.S. government to purchase “huge amounts” of Bitcoin to pay the ransom. Consequently, these supposed Bitcoin purchases on behalf of the U.S. government have caused Bitcoin’s price to rise since then. 

Ransomware Reality

Yet, Carlson provided no other proof to support his spurious correlation, such as a legitimate report of any such attack. In addition to running contrary to an official statement from the FAA, Carlson’s contention also lacked any substantial on-chain evidence. Any transaction of this kind would leave a significant digital footprint that authorities have been increasingly adept at pursuing.

Advancements in law enforcement are just one of the reasons ransomware payments actually fell last year. According to a recent report, ransomware payments in crypto fell to $457 million last year, a drop of 40.3%.

As authorities adapt to criminal practices, so have businesses, enhancing cybersecurity measures, such as bolstering their data backup processes. Victims also find themselves unable to pay due to the risk of breaching international sanctions.

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Nicholas Pongratz
Nick is a data scientist who teaches economics and communication in Budapest, Hungary, where he received a BA in Political Science and Economics and an MSc in Business Analytics from CEU. He has been writing about cryptocurrency and blockchain technology since 2018, and is intrigued by its potential economic and political usage.
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