Does Cryptocurrency Encourage Crime?
20.6.2018 securityaffairs Cryptocurrency
Is cryptocurrency making some wrongdoings harder to commit while making others more rampant in society? Does Cryptocurrency Encourage Crime?
People hear a lot about how cryptocurrency — and particularly the blockchain technology associated with it — could decrease some kinds of crime because it’s so transparent and all transactions become part of an unchangeable record.
However, is cryptocurrency making some wrongdoings harder to commit while making others more rampant in society?
Cybersecurity Firm Says Cryptocurrency Causes Raised Ransom Demands
A cybersecurity firm in the United Kingdom called MWR InfoSecurity believes the increasing demand in the cryptocurrency market contributes to more depth and liquidity. So, people who buy and sell cryptocurrency assets can more easily move enormous amounts of the virtual currency without causing dramatic price fluctuations in those assets.
Representatives of MWR InfoSecurity argue that those conditions make cybercriminals feel emboldened when making larger than usual ransom requests from their victims. They often request cryptocurrency instead of traditional money, and it’s becoming easier for them to up the amounts they demand.
Although cryptocurrency doesn’t necessarily facilitate crimes in these cases, it could urge the criminals to be more devastating to their targets.
Cryptocurrency Connected to Crime Increase in India
The Indian government does not recognize cryptocurrency as legal tender, and it banned banks from providing services to companies that buy and sell virtual currency. That latter decision caused some cryptocurrency exchanges to shut down.
India is not a welcoming country for cryptocurrency users, and that’s likely because when cryptocurrency began taking off in the country, related crimes rose too.
Some of them focused on duping hopeful investors who wanted to get rich with cryptocurrency. Others include crimes connected to malware on cryptocurrency mining machines. Fake cryptocurrency apps and unscrupulous companies appeared as well.
In the majority of cases, criminals likely noticed opportunities because people got excited about a technology about which they knew little.
The perpetrators cashed in on ignorance and often succeeded because their victims were so eager to get involved in cryptocurrency that they took leaps without first getting sufficiently educated.
Criminals commonly prey on people who are desperate, and that’s why the cryptocurrency market is ripe for their misdeeds.
Many individuals view the cryptocurrency market as one filled with promise. Moreover, they read the stories of people who are now millionaires after becoming early cryptocurrency investors. So, some people are more likely than not to get ahead of themselves and become involved in cryptocurrency scams due to not performing adequate research.
Most Online Crimes Involve Cryptocurrency — but Not Always Anonymity
According to some estimates, as much as 99 percent of unlawful online activities have an element of cryptocurrency. Plus, although people on the blockchain can see cryptocurrencies going into various wallets, criminals know it’s not likely law enforcement agencies will link their identities to the wallets.
That lack of identifying information allows them to sell content snatched during data breaches and feel less afraid that they’ll get found out compared to if they were trying to profit from their crimes without the cloak of cryptocurrency.
Further statistics from a recent research paper found that approximately 25 percent of all Bitcoin users have ties to illegal activities and that 44 percent of Bitcoin transactions were connected to crimes.
Regardless of that data, it is foolish for criminals to assume they need not be worried about getting found out if they deal in cryptocurrency crimes. Instances exist of investigators being able to track the IP addresses of cryptocurrency criminals due to those individuals’ carelessness.
Also, a research team discovered there were cases where it was possible to link cryptocurrency transactions with single IP addresses. Through their work, they connected more than 1,000 IP addresses and Bitcoin accounts.
Law Enforcement Agencies Meet the Challenge
The increase in cryptocurrency crime has made police forces around the world realize they cannot afford to let the criminals within the industry remain unchecked. In Europe, an annual conference brings law enforcement personnel and cryptocurrency experts together for a meeting of the minds.
The 2017 gathering attracted over 150 people from around the world. The topics covered included the illegal uses of cryptocurrency, plus legitimate ways to rely on cryptocurrency to reduce crime.
Crime investigators are also using special software that screens cryptocurrency transactions for potential links to things like the black market, theft or drugs. Organizations ranging from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) are reportedly among the software manufacturers’ clients
Spurring the Evolution of Crime-Solving Techniques
There’s no doubt about the connection between increases in crime and cryptocurrency. The virtual currency makes criminals attempt new offenses facilitated by aspects of the industry at large, such as cryptocurrency mining. The lack of understanding some consumers have about cryptocurrencies only makes them easier targets.
At the same time, law enforcement agencies are stepping up and developing new methods to get to the bottom of crimes and those who commit them.
So, means of fighting crime get updated, and criminals find out their deeds may not stay hidden forever.