Cybercriminals appear to be dropping bitcoin for more private cryptocurrencies as law enforcement develop new technology and techniques to monitor and match transactions to crimes.
Bitcoins blockchain ledger includes the exact time and amounts transferred which can be used to match crimes to wallet addresses allowing law enforcement to monitor funds disappearing and reappearing in new locations.
Analytic firms are also getting better at flagging digital hoards linked to crime or money laundering, alerting exchanges and preventing conversion into traditional cash, according to Bloomberg. As a result cybercriminals are turning to more privacy based cryptocurrencies, such as Monero and ZCash, which obscure or encrypt addresses.
Monero is the more popular alternative among crooks although ZCash offers more privacy features such as encrypting true addresses rather than creating fake addresses to hide senders making it impossible to identify senders. Alternative currencies coins are also gaining value at a higher rate than bitcoin.
Despite bitcoins higher price, Monero and ZCash have both seen relative success while bitcoin has seen a steep drop in value at the close of last year. Monero quadrupled in value in the final two months of 2017 while bitcoin roughly doubled during the same time.
Criminals will still have to stay on their toes in their quest to mine these currencies as browser developers are starting to take more precautions against criminals looking to steal computing power to mine these cryptocurrencies from unsuspecting users. Opera recently announced that its upcoming release will contain an anti-cryptocurrency mining features.
“Bitcoins are really hot right now, but did you know that they might actually be making your computer hotter?,” Opera spokesperson Kornelia Mielczarczyk said in a blog post. “Your CPU suddenly working at 100 percent capacity, the fan is going crazy for seemingly no reason and your battery quickly depleting might all be signs that someone is using your computer to mine for cryptocurrency.”
The new feature will block silent cryptominers the same way many other browsers block unwanted ads.