European Union law enforcement agency Europol has for the first time released a cybercrime report examining the growing role of zcash, monero and ether on the darknet.
In the 2017 Internet Organised Crime Threat Assessment (IOCTA), Europol states that, although bitcoin is still the preferred currency in cybercrime, the landscape is beginning to evolve, with "monero, ethereum and zcash … gaining popularity within the digital underground."
The research document analyzes the differing desirability of these cryptocurrencies for cybercriminals, and concludes that monero is increasingly popular due to the "additional security and privacy features it offers."
The document explains:
Europol also mentions the cryptocurrencies' popularity on darknet marketplaces, and decribes the first known case, earlier this year, of a monero-focused ransomware named Kirk.
The document goes on to say that zcash "has yet to feature in any reported law enforcement investigations." However, due to its privacy features, which involves "obscuring both the transaction recipient and transaction amount," darknet marketplaces are interested in the currency.
Although since disbanded, the largest darknet market AlphaBay added monero and ethereum as payment options in the year prior to its closure, and had plans to implement zcash.
Europol shutdown AlphaBay earlier this year as part of an internationally coordinated darknet crackdown.
Disclosure: CoinDesk is a subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which has an ownership stake in Zcash Company, the for-profit entity that develops the Zcash protocol.
Underground passage image via Shutterstock
The leader in news and information on cryptocurrency, digital assets and the future of money, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups. As part of their compensation, certain CoinDesk employees, including editorial employees, may receive exposure to DCG equity in the form of stock appreciation rights, which vest over a multi-year period. CoinDesk journalists are not allowed to purchase stock outright in DCG.
Learn more about Consensus 2023, CoinDesk’s longest-running and most influential event that brings together all sides of crypto, blockchain and Web3. Head to consensus.coindesk.com to register and buy your pass now.