Popular privacy-enhancing cryptocurrency wallets and other technologies were named as “top threats” in Europol’s 2020 Internet Organized Crime Threat Assessment published Monday and reviewed by CoinDesk.

  • According a report by the European Union’s law enforcement agency, “privacy-enhanced wallet services using coinjoin concepts (for example, Wasabi and Samurai [sic] wallets) have emerged as a top threat in addition to well established centralized mixers.”
  • These statements echo comments made in June by the agency, as CoinDesk reported.
  • Actors labeled as threats in the report have also been “increasingly using hardware wallets” to securely store funds and private keys.
  • Europol's report also included decentralized marketplace protocols as a “high priority threat”, specifically naming OpenBazaar, developed by cryptocurrency software company OB1, noting “thousands of downloads on Android” for the company’s mobile platform Haven.
  • “Criminals have started to use other privacy-focused, decentralized marketplace platforms, such as OpenBazaar and Particl.io to sell their illegal goods,” the report says.
  • OB1 CEO Brian Hoffman told CoinDesk his company “only bundle[s] the OB1 search engine” for OpenBazaar, and markets on their Haven product are actively filtered to remove listings that don’t comply with law enforcement and app store requirements.
  • The OpenBazaar protocol itself, however, “can be used by anyone, and there is no middleman to remove listings before being published,” he added.
  • In terms of payment options, bitcoin remains the Darkweb’s most popular method, the report says, “mainly due to its wide adoption, reputation, and ease of use.” But “monero is gradually becoming the most established privacy coin for Darkweb transactions, followed by zcash and dash.”
  • “These privacy coins may present a considerable obstacle to law enforcement investigations,” according to Europol's report.
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