Europol: cryptocurrency continues to facilitate the сommission of online crimes

Europol: cryptocurrency continues to facilitate the сommission of online crimes


The European law enforcement group Europol has published a document stating that cryptocurrencies are still being used to facilitate criminal payments on the Internet.

Crypto that is used for criminal payments

The report on the threat assessment of organized crime on the Internet (IOCTA) was published on October 5. It contains detailed information about the most common threats of cybercrime committed with the use of the Internet in Europe.

According to the document, the “abuse” of cryptocurrencies continues, and is used as a means to simplify payments for all types of cybercrime.

This is mainly due to the General characteristics of various cryptocurrencies, which are highlighted in the report as the reliability of these systems, the irreversibility of transactions due to their decentralized nature, and the different degree of anonymity provided to users who make transactions with cryptocurrencies.

This has led to cryptocurrencies becoming the preferred choice for victims ‘ transactions to criminals related to ransomware attacks, as well as for payments between criminals on Darkweb platforms and other criminal networks.

The report mentions one of the very first Darkweb trading platforms, Silkroad, which appeared back in 2011, as well as the Cryptolocker ransomware program and its appearance in 2013.

“At that time, more than 20% of transactions were directly related to criminal activity. Although the level of criminal abuse has increased significantly, the legal use of cryptocurrency has grown much faster.”

The report highlights that the use of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin is dominated by investment and trading activities – only about 1.1% of these transactions involve criminal activity. This includes using cryptocurrency for trading on the darknet, theft,and payments using ransomware.

It also says that crypto assets are still the preferred payment option for cybercriminals who practice extortion through SOFTWARE attacks, while more modern methods include “sextortion”, data theft, or threats related to COVID-19.

Europol IOCTA also recognizes that the growing crypto sector is also attracting cybercriminals who try to hack exchanges and users ‘ private wallets. He pointed to 10 major attacks on exchanges in 2019 that resulted in the theft of assets worth more than 240 million euros.

Confidential wallets are the main threat to Darkweb

The last section of the report examines various threats coming from dark web trading platforms, which, as noted, have slightly decreased over the past two years. However, the IOCTA said that this space is still difficult to control, as “developments are often difficult to anticipate.”

The use of privacy-enhancing wallets is considered a major threat to law enforcement. Coinjoin concepts such as Wasabi and Samurai wallets, as well as centralized mixers, are mentioned specifically as tools used by cybercriminals on the darknet.

In the past, trading platforms primarily used Bitcoin as the preferred means of payment, but the advent of a number of privacy coins has changed the course of things.

These trading platforms now offer various altcoin options for payment, including Litecoin, Ethereum, Monero, Zcash, and Dash.

In particular, Monero is considered the most used privacy coin for Darkweb transactions, followed by Zcash and Dash.