The European Union law enforcement agency, Europol has released a cybercrime report, which examines the growing role that ZCash, Monero and Ether are having on the darknet. This is likely to come as no real surprise, given the risk that is associated with any type of cryptocurrency.
In the 2017 Internet Organised Crime Threat Assessment (IOCTA), Europol makes the statement that although Bitcoin is still the most common cryptocurrency that is seen in cybercrime cases, it is beginning to evolve with the above cryptocurrencies gaining the reputation for being a popular crime target.
So why are they becoming more of a target?
There are many reasons that other forms of cryptocurrencies are becoming more of a target. As well as being more publicised and more available to everyone, research has suggested that some are more desirable than others – for example Monero is becoming increasingly popular because it offers additional security and privacy features. The report goes on to say,
“Transactions cannot be attributed to any particular user/address, all coins used in a transaction are ‘hidden’ by default, and transaction histories are kept private”.
Despite this though, Europol notes that despite the high security features, it is still popular on the darknet, and earlier this year, the first ransomware to affect Monero was introduced, and named Kirk.
Ethereum is perhaps the most popular currency out of the three to be featured on the dark net. It features in detail a case of a decentralised darknet market, which has been planned to operate on the Ethereum blockchain. This suggests that Ethereum in particular is set to play a huge part in cybercrimes, despite it also raising in popularity to investors as well.
Although ZCash has yet to feature in any reported law enforcement investigations, it does not mean that it cannot become involved with any wrongdoing. The privacy features make it very interesting to the darknet, and the report suggests that it is only a matter of time before it is involved with cybercrime.
Europol has stepped in to help control this though, and despite the fact that the largest darknet market AlphaBay added both Monero and Ethereum as payment options, with plans to add ZCash as well, Europol actually shut down AlphaBay as part of an internationally coordinated crackdown on the darknet.
References and Further Reading: