Cryptocurrencies and Criminal Activities
Traditional banking methods utilize a measure known as “know your client” or KYC. The lack of KYC measures in the digital world makes money laundering an attractive option for the criminal element. There are exchanges online that require little to no identifying information to purchase trade or convert bitcoins to currency. If you have a large sum of cash, that cash can be exchanged for cryptocurrency and then cashed out at a Bitcoin ATM, and that money is now clean. Bitcoin could be used to purchase goods or services legitimately online at places such as Amazon.
The darknet also offers a place for criminals to buy, sell and trade weapons. These weapons could be legally purchased in a store or weapons that are illegal to own and/or purchase. There is no oversight on the dark web and no oversight on the currency being used; therefore, it’s ideal for exchanging illegal goods.
Likewise, as for weapons trafficking, narcotics trafficking is done for the same reasons. On the dark web, you can move narcotics hidden from view or scrutiny of regulatory agencies. You can move narcotics across the county, state, and country lines without detection and pay for those narcotics with digital currencies with no central regulatory authority.
In a time of digital information and digital storage, extortion becomes another easy way for quick money. Computers were designed to share information openly and without limits. It’s only when threat actors attempt to manipulate, destroy, or steal data does it become necessary to restrict access. And the rate at which computer servers are set up, oftentimes security measures are overlooked. This allows a threat actor to enter that system, plant malware that encrypts that data, and then hold that data ransom for the decryption key period; what better way to accept that ransom in a currency that is difficult to trace. So, a threat actor on a different continent can shut down a hospital record management system with a few keystrokes and expect to be sometimes paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in a digital currency that most investigators would have no idea how to trace. The dark web also allows hackers to advertise their services in exchange for payment in digital currencies.