Europol, which is an exclusive wing of the European Union (EU) that deals with law enforcement operations, has released a comprehensive report assessing the rising popularity of Monero, Zcash, Ether and other types of cryptocurrency on the dark web.
This comprehensively outlined report seeks to describe how and why these digital currencies have found favor within the underground market.
In the recently released interactive document, termed The Internet Organized Crime Threat Assessment (IOCTA), Europol has subsequently warned that despite Bitcoin being the most preferred digital unit for cybercrime, the landscape is gradually shifting and evolving.
Other virtual units, mainly Monero, Etheruem and Zcash, are increasingly growing in popularity in underground digital markets.
In its assessments, Europol realized that these units are quickly rising to widespread popularity on the darknet.
The report, which assesses the divergent allures of these digital currencies to cybercrimes, cited privacy features and enhanced security as among the significant reasons that resulted in these digital units gaining substantial popularity in online markets.
In the document, the findings state that cybercriminals continue to exploit cryptocurrency—most precisely Bitcoin, which continues to top the charts as the most popular unit in making digital payments for activities such as DDoS attacks or ransomware.
Nonetheless, other digital units such as Ethereum, Zcash and Monero are gradually climbing up the popularity ladder within the vast digital underground.
What’s more, the report further outlined the key reason why these digital units are continually growing as a favorite among many criminals.
According to the researchers, the main reason for their rapid use is the fact that it’s impossible to trace any of the transactions back to any particular address or individual, since every coin utilized in any deal is “concealed” by default with the dealing’s history remaining private.
Other Highlights of the Report
In this particular report, Europol mainly lays its focus on the rising popularity of cryptocurrency on the dark web. As part of the assessment, it outlines an example referring to the case of Kirk, a Monero-based ransomware which was established in early 2017.
What’s more, it also seeks to clarify the impact of Ethereum. In this case, the report claims that all smart contracts based on Ethereum could subsequently find use in legalizing payments between criminals.
Europol also highlighted an event that involved a projected decentralized darknet market, which is formulated to operate on the private Ethereum Blockchain.
This document also touched on Zcash. In its presentation, the report clarified that this digital unit is yet to be the primary focus of any law enforcement investigation.
Nonetheless, this digital currency is featured as a possible solace for crime service providers mainly because of its characteristic privacy features, which conceal both the identity of the recipient and the amount of a given transaction.
AlphaBay Plays a Role in Investigation
Darknet markets have been in existence for quite a while with thousands of illegal transactions successfully pushing through, sometimes even without the authorities noticing.
The largest darknet market, AlphaBay, was shuttered earlier this year as a result of a major law enforcement operation. The closure, which signified a momentous stride towards curbing and eradicating cybercrime, was part of an internationally-coordinated crackdown on underground online markets.
Nonetheless, before it was completely shut down by Europol, this marketplace had already incorporated Monero and Ethereum as part of the available payment options and was in the process of adding Zcash too.
According to this report, an exclusive investigative document pointed out that in the course of the crackdown and subsequent shutdown of AlpahBay, authorities had consequently seized large quantities of digital currencies, particularly Ethereum, Bitcoin and Zcash, not to mention “an unknown quantity of Monero” from the forum’s administrator.
What followed was a celebration by Monero enthusiasts via social media on the latter statement, since it dignified the resilience of Monero as a digital currency.
Although it is easy for virtually any currency to be closely linked with criminal activities, these types of security queries with digital currencies are what gives governing bodies a reason to continue to holding skeptical opinions on the possible security and value of cryptocurrency.
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