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Connecting the Dots: Cryptocurrency and the Challenges of the Dark Net

NewsConnecting the Dots: Cryptocurrency and the Challenges of the Dark Net

The combination of cryptocurrency and darknet realms takes this paradigm to a new level. In preparation for large-scale cryptocurrency theft or other operations financed by cryptocurrencies, cybercriminals are increasingly turning to the dark web. In this paradigm, criminal investigation becomes a difficult task.

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Azadi Times: The cryptocurrency-driven economy is global in nature and not necessarily well-controlled in the geography of transactions. Although currency listings and trading exchanges are tightening their controls to improve transparency, credibility and prevent its criminal use, there is still plenty of room for misuse of crypto-tokens in the chain and layers of transactions. There is scope. Some tokens have more privacy and anonymity. They naturally attract criminals.

According to a United Nations report, around 20 percent of serious criminal attacks are now linked to cryptocurrency funding. What began as an attempt to create an encrypted network to hide sensitive communications from ordinary Internet users has now expanded into a full-fledged dark network. It provides the underlying technology to hidden pages, which are not accessible through standard browsers and are not indexed by search engines. It promotes communication through forums, chat rooms, files and picture hosts. It has also developed commercial facilities that pave the way for the development of markets for illegal offerings.

The combination of cryptocurrency and darknet realms takes this paradigm to a new level. In preparation for large-scale cryptocurrency theft or other operations financed by cryptocurrencies, cybercriminals are increasingly turning to the dark web. In this paradigm, criminal investigation becomes a difficult task.

In the darknet realm, standard procedures for contacting web hosting providers, working through regional and national authorities, serving and complying with court orders and initiating takedown orders will not work.

According to UNODC’s Darknet Threat Assessment Report 2020, the illicit darknet market in cyberspace and the use of cryptocurrencies pose significant challenges to law enforcement.

According to the report, the number of marketplaces in the Tor network has increased from one in 2011 to 118 in 2019. The increase in the number and variety of products was also significant. For example, Valhalla, a dark web marketplace, grew from 5,000 in 2015 to 13,000 in 2018.

It offers drugs (including cocaine, heroin, and painkillers), firearms and ammunition, hacking tools and services, and a variety of other items for sale. Some online markets also sell credit card information and fake documents. The preferred payment alternative is cryptocurrency. While Bitcoin is the dominant currency, tokens that provide greater privacy and anonymity are gaining popularity. After the covid outbreak, there has been a significant increase in the number of TOR users.

Top darknets often use decentralized mechanisms to segment data, encrypt it, and distribute it around peer nodes. Only the intended user has access to it through the secret keys shared with him. One of them relies on unidirectional tunnels, which can either be outbound to send traffic to a destination or inbound to receive traffic.

The TOR browser, on the other hand, runs on networks known as TOR circuits to keep users anonymous while browsing websites. It routes user traffic through a distributed network of rails managed by volunteers, also known as a Tor network.

Disk forensics, memory forensics, and network forensics when paired with dark web monitoring can be used to extract artifacts, detect embedded anti-forensic elements, track user paths, intercept traffic, map file systems, and more. And can help with timeline analysis.

Law enforcement agencies are gearing up to meet these challenges. Criminal investigations and related actions involving crypto tokens are gradually improving. The level of cooperation with the private sector within and across borders is high. Cryptocurrency market players, especially crypto exchanges, have started tightening the screws to prevent illegal use. Responsible players appear to be actively involved with law enforcement agencies. Blockchain analysis and cryptographic investigation methods are emerging. Specific tools, capabilities, and services are now developed to assist in this effort.

The joint efforts of several law enforcement agencies around the world have achieved some success. They were able to identify individual actors or markets in some cases. Creating actionable intelligence requires a high level of support for collaboration and timely completion of integrated activities. Geographical boundaries create obstacles, jurisdictional concerns create roadblocks, lack of enabling rules for intelligence sharing can derail investigations and lack of legal instruments criminal infrastructure. Can make it difficult to block.

Lack of consistent, quantitative, and qualitative data remains a challenge, limiting law enforcement threat identification, prioritization, and resource mobilization. However, with open source intelligence [OSINT] approaches, information sharing, data analytics, the emergence of specialized tools, and the deployment of specialized skills, often proposed to investigate crimes involving crypto and the dark web. goes Law enforcement officials must increase their skills, learn strategies, use tools and methods, and collaborate with skills available in the private sector.

They must find ways to connect the dots, reveal activities on the darknet, and actively engage in campaigns against the network. The key to success will be the appropriation of darknet networks, services, cryptocurrency investigations and information gathering, specialized political, policy and operational approaches as advised by the UNODC.

In the era of NFT, AI and the Metaverse, scheduled for July 13 and 14 in NCR, the G20 Conference on Crime and Security will largely consider how we as a society Cryptocurrencies and Darknet can make significant progress in ensuring law and order in the era.

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