Europol: altcoins rise in popularity in criminal circles

Europol cyber-crime division released a report about alcoins slowly displacing Bitcoin as means of illicit activities' funding
28 February 2018   136

The rising popularity of cryptocurrencies and their anonymous nature couldn't have not attracted unsavory crowd. It's long been widely known that cryptocurrencies are used to purchase illegal goods and services, but previously investigatory attempts have been centered around the most popular crypto – Bitcoin. But the recent report by the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation, formerly known as the European Police Office and Drugs Unit (Europol), rises a valid point of criminal shifting to more private and less monitored coins.

Jarek Jacubchek, an analyst for Europol cyber-crime division, told in his interview to Business Insider, that now there is a distinct shift from Bitcoin to cryptocurrencies that provide higher level of privacy. Monero, Zcash and Dash were specifically mentioned by name for their throughout approach to security.

This trend is fueled by two factors. First – Bitcoin exchanges are coming under increased scrutiny and regulatory pressure to prevent money laundering. Know-your-client efforts practically universally adopted by know on governmental insistence. Second – Bitcoin is already widely regarded as one of the most popular means of funding illicit activities, so law enforcement agencies across the globe focus a lot of effort on improving ability to track BTC transfers and to connect specific transactions and wallets to individuals.

Still Bitcoin remains the most popular cryptocurrency not only among law-abiding citizens bu criminals as well. Not only popularity but also wider coverage and ease of transactions contributes to this state of affairs.

Atlanta's computer network infected with Bitcoin ransomware

Hackers breached the governmental computer network in Atlanta to infect with ransomware and demand payment in Bitcoin
23 March 2018   137

Cryptocurrency ransomware of different flavors has been around practically as long as cryptocurrencies themselves. And now the city of Atlanta, US has come under the attack.

The governmental computer system has been infected by the ransomware virus early in Thursday, and this has caused a massive disruption in several departments. In particular the bill payments and court information services has been affected. Later in the morning several city employees found a ransom letter on their computers with demands for $51,000 in Bitcoin.

In the afternoon of the same day officials held a press-conference, but were unable to provide any particular information about the attack since the investigation was just commenced and in the early stages. The question whether or not they were going to pay the ransom were also left unanswered.

Atlanta is one the major economics hubs in the Southern US with several large international companies and the world's busiest airport located in the city. Apparently, the city officials have no qualms about going for all the available help in such a high-resonance case, hence the US Department of Homeland Security, the FBI and even the Secret Service authorities are now on the ground.

Of course, there is little chance of systems being unlocked even if the ransom is paid, the security experts say. So, the city is probably in for a long road to full recovery of its computer facilities. The officials have even started making plans in preparation for long and tedious recovery process.