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The rise of crypto-currencies: how terrorists make money

In the world of cybercrime, anonymous cryptocurrencies are the way to pay. But in some cases, the links need to be converted into hard currency. Enter “Men’s Treasures”.

Finding a Treasure Man is easy if you know where to look. It is designed to be built on Hydra, the largest black market with black money, a segment of the internet that does not appear on search engines and requires special software to access it.

“They’ll leave a bundle of money somewhere for you to pick up,” says Dr Tom Robinson, senior scientist and co-founder of Elliptic, a group that tracks and analyzes crypto events. “They hide secretly or hide behind bushes, and they can tell you the coordinates. There is work to be done.”

Russian-speaking Hydra offers a number of other ways for criminals to use crypto currencies, including exchange voucher vouchers, refund cards or iTunes vouchers, for example.

The inability of anonymous cryptocurrencies has made them more vulnerable to criminals, especially to swindlers seeking redress when they enter the industry.

In 2020, at least $ 350m in crypto redemption was paid to terrorist groups, such as DarkSide, the group that closed the Colonial Pipeline earlier this month, according to Chainalysis, an investigative group.

But at the same time, all transactions in cryptocurrency are recorded on a fixed blockchain, leaving a visible path for anyone with technical expertise.

Several crypto forensics companies have set up to help set up terrorist groups to investigate where money laundering is going.

These include New York’s Chainalysis, which raised $ 100m in excess of $ 2bn earlier this year, a London-based Elliptic, with Wells Fargo among its investors, and US government-sponsored CipherTrace.

Dark exchange

Overall, by 2020 some $ 5bn funds had been received by illegal entities, and the illegal entities sent $ 5bn to other sources, representing less than 1% of the total cryptocurrency in circulation, according to Chainalysis.

In the early days of the financial system, terrorists simply took money using large cryptocurrency exchanges. The Elliptic estimates that between 2011 and 2019, a major exchange helped generate between 60% and 80% of sales from known offenders.

By last year, when the exchange was becoming more and more legalized, many of them had developed their own anti-money laundering (AML) methods and got to know your customers (KYC) and shared the share up to 45%.

Strict laws pushed other criminals to exchange without licenses, which do not require KYC information. Many work in places where there are few strict rules or when they lie to others outside of contracts.

But Michael Phillips, chief of officers at cyber insurance group Resilience, said such exchanges cost less, leading to terrorists switching to fiat currency. “The goal is to create more revenue for the business,” he said.

There are several types of cryptocurrencies. Chainalysis research shows that market participants are primarily involved in triggering large-scale illegal activities – while some jobs are self-sustaining.

So far minor incidents have passed more than 11,600 ATMs that have exploded around the world without a license, or through crypto-enabled online websites.

Forensics Companies

Against this backdrop, crypto forensics companies use technology that examines blockchain events, along with human intelligence, to identify which wallets are criminals, and to draw a picture of the entire intervening universe.

In a nutshell on how terrorists transfer their money, their research has focused mainly on how hackers borrow their ransom program from websites, while cutting down any money.

Kimberly Grauer, head of research at Chainalysis, also added that scammers are paying a lot of money from other terrorists, such as cloud storage or payment for access to their victims, and crypto, giving researchers a more complete picture of the environment.

“There is very little need for you to run your business,” Grauer said. This means that “we can see the ransom paid, and we can see the split and go to different players in the system”.

Losing the path

But cybercriminals are using their most advanced weapons and skills to disrupt the process they are leaving.

Some thugs do what is known as “jumping” – jumping between different numbers, often in quick succession – to lose controllers, or to use “secret” money that is not known as Monero.

Some of the most popular tools for chasing scammers are tumblers or mixers – third-party applications that mix unlicensed coins with pure crypto before redistributing them. In April, the Department of Justice arrested and charged two Russian-Swedish nationals engaged in a mixed business called Bitcoin Fog, and have moved $ 335m into bitcoin over the past 10 years.

“It’s possible to save money on coins,” said Katherine Kirkpatrick, a partner at law firm King & Spalding. “But it is very complex and requires a lot of energy to implement and knowledge.”

The “copywriting tool” in 2020 – which helped drive 12% of all frauds in that year – was the most advanced “secret wallets” with obvious methods including integrated integration, according to the Elliptic.

“They’re an incredible mix and everything happens within the programs,” says Robinson, noting that an open-ended project called Wasabi Wallet was the main player on the site.

What’s next?

Officials “need to repair the damage and shut down the system” to make it easier for law enforcement officials to withdraw money from the exchange, says Tom Kellermann, head of VMware’s cyber security systems and a member of the cyber advisory committee at the US Secret Service.

One-on-one exchanges today can sign up for jobs from law firms that can inform them of suspicious jobs based on their expertise.

But experts in the past have also said the idea of ​​sharing illegal documents known to be used by criminals – a form of Interpol alert, and exchanges, monitoring groups and the government are sharing freely in their investigations to make this possible.

“Maybe now is a good time to consider some of the process,” said Kemba Walden, senior assistant at the Digital Crimes Unit office.

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