Ransomware, Cybercrime And Monero – Is The Bad Reputation Justified?

The Bitcoin network is a public ledger, which means that everyone on the chain can view all transactions. This lack of privacy has concerned cybercriminals who are now turning to privacy coins such as Monero. Monero has an additional layer of anonymity on its blockchain, making it hard to trace transactions. It has hence become an ideal choice for top ransomware hackers.

What is Monero?

Monero was created in 2014 by several developers, who, like Satoshi Nakamoto, have remained anonymous. The coin’s whitepaper stated that Monero’s main objectives are to boost privacy and anonymity.

Monero runs on its blockchain, where all transaction details are hidden from prying eyes. The blockchain hides details of the sender, receiver and the amount transacted. This concept gives cybercriminals an avenue where they can avoid tracking by law enforcement agencies.

Despite cybercriminals also using other cryptocurrencies such as BTC, the use of Monero has been on the rise. Some top cybercriminals who have turned to Monero to request payments include REvil and AlphaBay. Hence, there has been increased popularity and demand for Monero, but much of these gains have been associated with cybercriminals.

Nevertheless, several limitations come with using Monero for ransomware. Firstly, Monero lacks liquidity because it is not listed on several cryptocurrency exchange platforms. Hence, it is hard for a company to acquire many Monero coins to use in paying for ransom.

Monero is also prone to government regulations. If governments shut down the token because of increased cybercrime, cybercriminals will have to look for other privacy coins such as Dash or go back to the basics of Bitcoin and Ethereum.

Bitcoin Still Dominates Ransomware

Despite Bitcoin lacking privacy, it has remained the top cryptocurrency used by corporations to pay for ransomware. The main reason for this is cyber insurance. Many insurance companies will fail to compensate a firm if a ransomware payment has been made in Monero.

Besides, hackers have also come up with ways to hide Bitcoin transactions. Once a cybercriminal receives Bitcoin, they can swap it with Monero and then swap it back to Bitcoin, after which they can cash out. Swapping BTC with Monero will create a gap in traceability, making it hard for investigators to trace the transaction.

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