Ransomware negotiations and payments may soon rely less on Bitcoin as a form of payment, according to cybersecurity firm Kaspersky.
The company with Russian roots ascribed this shift to advancements in the technology used to track Bitcoin’s movement and suppliers, as well as to tougher regulations and penalties.
Scammers Exploring Other Digital Currencies
The company went on to say that fraudsters will instead look to alternative digital currencies to help them make their illegal payments.
According to Chainalysis‘ analysis, bitcoin currently makes up a sizable portion of the world of cybercrime. The investigating company stated that $602 million in transfers to cryptocurrency addresses associated with ransomware payments occurred in 2021, but that figure is likely an underestimate.
Could Monero and Zcash Takeover?
Digital currencies specifically designed for privacy, like Monero or Zcash, are already very popular among online criminals.
According to Jason Rebholz, CISO at cyber insurance provider Corvus, some of the most significant hacker organizations in the world, including Darkside, not only accept Monero but also provide a slight discount for payments made with the cryptocurrency that protects user anonymity.
The Colonial Pipeline ransomware assault from the previous year, which halted gas supply to a large portion of the United States, was linked to Darkside. Cryptocurrencies like Monero, in contrast to Bitcoin, have fundamentally different underlying technologies designed to increase anonymity.
Cryptocurrencies like Monero, in contrast to Bitcoin, have fundamentally different underlying technologies designed to increase anonymity.
Monero, according to a whitepaper from the core development team, seeks to address privacy concerns that other coins have “by maintaining only single-use addresses for the reception of funds in the blockchain.”
On the other hand, Bitcoin’s receiving addresses can be seen on the public blockchain and are constant throughout transactions, making it easier for anyone wanting to track down transactions and payment trends.
In addition, Monero employed a technique known as “Ring Signatures,” which enables the creator of a transaction to combine their signature with those of other parties, making it more difficult to determine the transaction’s true origin.
In 2020, Interpol analyst Jerek Jakubcek described how he “hit the end of the road” when looking into a suspect who utilized both Monero and the privacy browser Tor. He added that whatever had happened on the Bitcoin blockchain was visible but things were quite opaque on the Monero blockchain and, therefore the investigation had to end.
This clears up why a lot of hackers are now moving away from Bitcoin as an avenue. To most Bitcoin users and enthusiasts, this is yet another upside to holding and using the cryptocurrency.
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