A new report on the global economic impact of cybercrime has named three cryptocurrencies that provide greater security to cybercriminals and help them evade policing.
Cryptocurrency is proven to be the favored currency for darknet marketplaces, with cybercriminals taking advantage of its pseudonymous nature and decentralized organization to conduct illicit transactions, demand payments from victims, and launder the proceeds from their crimes.
In order to avoid identification risks involved in Bitcoin transactions, a number of alternative anonymous cryptocurrencies have been developed on dark net markets. The three most popular today are Dash, Monero, and Zcash, says the report, based on a study conducted jointly by computer security giant McAfee and the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).
Cybercriminals are looking for even better security by using an emerging new marketplace called OpenBazaar, warns the report titled “The Economic Impact of Cybercrime: No Slowing Down.”
Dash claims to improve on bitcoins by offering an enhanced level of security. According to Dash’s official webpage, while it is possible to trace back the parties involved in a bitcoin transaction, Dash eliminates this “risk” by implementing a two-tier security network. Dash uses a technique known as “coinjoin” to integrate mixing into the operation of the currency and provide protection for senders and recipients.
Monero is even more secure, using “stealth addresses” that hide the amount of every purchase and mix each transaction with more than a hundred others to anonymize the senders.
Zcash is the most advanced of the three. Using a process called zero-knowledge proofs that allow two users to exchange information without ever revealing identities, it completely shields details of the transaction from all involved.
Monero has been the most widely implemented of the three, with about 2 percent of all transactions on former top market AlphaBay using the coin in late 2016.
According to Europol, a Monero-based ransomware kit has already been developed.
OpenBazaar is a decentralized, peer-to-peer network that allows users to make purchases without ever hosting data on a central server.
This would make the darknet market extremely difficult to disrupt, as law enforcement agencies have already found. Though no illegal activity has so far been noted on OpenBazaar, that might change once Tor is fully implemented, and anonymous cryptocurrencies are integrated into the platform, the report warns.
In their 2017 Internet Organised Crime Threat Assessment, Europol has highlighted OpenBazaar as a potential future threat.
Cryptocurrency is one of the key factors that fuel cybercrime, which is estimated to have cost the global economy $600 billion in 2017.