Although Bitcoin remains dominant, more and more attackers are making ransomware claims against Monero. This is according to Mark Grens, president of DigitalMint, a company that helps corporate victims pay the ransom.
Monero is a more private token and gives cybercriminals greater freedom from some of the tools and tracking mechanisms the Bitcoin blockchain provides.
When the FBI successfully hacked into a cryptocurrency wallet owned by Colonial Pipeline hackers to trace funds on the Bitcoin blockchain, it alerted cybercriminals who believed that cryptocurrency transactions would automatically protect themselves from verification. One of the fundamental principles of Bitcoin is that a public ledger that records all token transactions is visible to everyone. This is why more and more hackers are turning to coins with added anonymity built-in, like Dash, Zcash, and Monero.
Monero Paves its Way to Fame
In particular, Monero is becoming an increasingly popular cryptocurrency with the world’s leading ransomware criminals. Smart criminals are using Monero, said Rick Holland, director of information security at cyber threat intelligence firm Digital Shadows.
Monero was released by a consortium of developers in 2014, and many developers wanted anonymity. As stated in the white paper, privacy and anonymity are the most important aspects of this digital currency. Privacy tokens run on their own blockchain that hides almost every detail of a transaction. The identities of the sender and recipient, as well as the amount of the transaction itself, are hidden.
This anonymity feature gives Monero greater freedom for cybercriminals in some tools and tracking mechanisms that the Bitcoin blockchain provides. On the Bitcoin blockchain, you can see the wallet address of a transaction, how many bitcoins it came from, and where it came from, explained Fred Thiel, former owner and chairman of Ultimaco, one of Europe’s largest cryptocurrency companies. “We have worked with Microsoft, Google, and others on post-quantum encryption.”
A Higher Level of Privacy for Monero
Subsequently, the wave of institutional investment is clearly not enjoying that much success, he said. This actually means that it is more difficult for cybercriminals to receive money directly in foreign currency.
Digital currencies may be more vulnerable to regulation by on and off-ramps. Which act as a bridge between fiat and cryptocurrency tokens. The other way to do this is to inform the exchange that listing Monero risks losing your license.
But while the US government can curb Monero by ignoring its liquidity points, Castle Island Ventures founding partner Nick Carter believes markets that allow peer-to-peer transfers of Monero to fiat will always be difficult to regulate. Neither puts hackers under US jurisdiction. Criminals could easily choose to conduct all their activities abroad in locations that are not under the kind of control that US regulators may impose.
Although Monero offers a higher level of privacy than Bitcoin, Holland notes that attackers have mastered certain techniques to anonymize Bitcoin transactions in order to obscure supply chains. The Bitcoin blockchain is very transparent to the public. But there are still other ways to make it hard to trace other transactions to their final destination.
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