Cyber security pro: Monero is the cryptocurrency of choice for ‘savvier criminals’

Monero XMR/USD is a cryptocurrency token that gives fraudsters more freedom from the tracking mechanisms and tools integrated by the BTC blockchain. Monero has been dubbed the “privacy token” and is gaining attention among more sophisticated cyber criminals, Rick Holland, chief information security officer at cyber threat intelligence company Digital Shadows, told CNBC in an interview.

Bitcoin remains the cryptocurrency of choice

Digitalmint, a company that helps corporate victims pay ransoms in cryptocurrencies, told CNBC Tech Reporter MacKenzie Sigalos that 90% to 95% of all ransom payments are still made in Bitcoin. But Monero is becoming an increasingly more popular option, despite some drawbacks that work against criminals’ interests. Most notably, reputable exchanges avoid listing Monero and those that do oversee low trading volume.

Nevertheless, the “more savvy criminals” are certainly using Monero, Holland also said. This is because it has its own blockchain that conceals practically all transaction details. It hides the amount of the transaction, the recipient, and the sender. In fact, the hacker group REvil is even willing to extend a discount to victims who pay in Monero.

The Future of Monero

Fred Theil, a former executive at cryptography giant Ultimaco, told CNBC Monero’s characteristics speak directly to the needs of criminals. He said:

With Monero, [the blockchain] obfuscates the wallet address, the amount of the transactions, who the counter-party was, which is pretty much exactly what the bad actors want.

By contrast, the Bitcoin blockchain is public for everyone to see, including what wallet address transacted, where it came from, and where it is going, Theil said. As such, Theil said he would count on US and other regulatory bodies to “shut them [Monero] down pretty hard.”

Leave a Reply