An Internet Organized Crime Threat Assessment 2020 report on Oct 5 by Europol classifies actors using privacy coins, wallets, decentralized marketplaces, and related technologies as top threats.
Europol: Privacy-focused technologies are Top threats
The report by the European Union Law enforcement agency notes an increase in the use of privacy-enhancing cryptocurrencies and concepts such as Samurai and Wasabi.
These, in addition to centralized mixers, have emerged as top threats. Although Samurai and Wasabi wallets can’t necessarily de-link users, they “certainly make cryptocurrency tracing much more challenging.”
Besides, actors prefer offline hard wallets. Hard wallets usually secure private keys of a wide range of coins and are often used when necessary. Plugging and unplugging them as necessitated by use can be a great of avoiding being tracked by law enforcement.
Consequently, this presents a challenge to agencies who have to evolve to counter the dynamic state of the dark web. There, actors continue to equip themselves with the latest technologies to avoid detection from law enforcement.
Part of the report read:
The report further adds that criminals now prefer privacy-focused decentralized marketplaces like OpenBazaar and Particl.io to sell illegal goods.
Of note, OpenBazaar doesn’t have an administrator and anyone can publish any good on offer. Its Android platform, Haven, is popular and has registered thousands of downloads.
Monero Rising Popularity in the Darkweb
Notably, Monero–together with other privacy-centric coins, is now being used by agents instead of Bitcoin.
Monero employs different transaction obfuscating methods to remove the link between receivers and senders of transactions.
Of all the privacy-coins, it is the most capitalized and widely cited by law enforcement authorities—especially in the U.S., as a threat to security and a possible tool for money laundering and terrorist financing.
“While Bitcoin remains the most popular payment method (mainly due to its wide adoption, reputation, and ease of use), the use of privacy-enhanced cryptocurrencies has somewhat increased albeit not at the rate expected by their proponents. Monero is gradually becoming the most established privacy coin for Darkweb transactions, followed by Zcash and Dash.”
As reported on Aug 4, the Monero Atomic Swaps will enable the trustless conversion of XMR to BTC once it is fully operational.