WannaCry Proves How Traceable Bitcoin Can Be
So it appears bitcoin, often touted as the currency of choice for criminals and money launderers, isn’t as anonymous as many people thought. Of course, anybody who took more than 5 minutes to try and understand bitcoin already knew this. Sure, some of the qualities of bitcoin, such as the ability to hold it directly and transfer it directly without intermediaries, make it attractive to criminals. However, that isn’t the fault of bitcoin. Indeed, nobody places the blame on physical cash when criminals are apprehended with suitcases full of the stuff.
So, we say to all those folks who like to cast aspersions and stain the good character of bitcoin, go forth and educate yourself. Here’s a couple of good places to start:
Looking through the Coindesk articles is a good building block to start constructing your new view of bitcoin. The perception of bitcoin’s anonymity being a negative should be quickly erased as they immediately state that virtual currency is not as prevalent as you may think among organised crime groups. Cyber-criminals may often consider using virtual currencies for their wrong-doings when they hear of the characteristics that the currencies have, but the complex nature of the blockchain means that very few actually have the brains to accomplish anything. Introducing Exhibit A, the WannaCry attack. The attack alerted the world to the apparent ‘dark side’ of bitcoin, news outlets ran stories about how bitcoin was being used for cyber-terrorism and people who were not educated on the topic immediately jumped to conclusions about it. Bitcoin’s anonymity may have enticed them into using it for the attack, but their lack of knowledge of the technology meant that they got a serious case of ‘What next?’ when it became apparent that the authorities could see exactly where the stolen money was.
All those bitcoin that were extorted via the WannaCry virus are being monitored and it appears they are now on the move. Recent reports claim that the money has been transferred from the initial wallets to 9 other wallets as the hackers try and outwit the authorities that can, thanks to the nature of the blockchain, trace the money every step of the way. The hackers may have completed Phase 1 of their plan without any problems, but if they want to escape into the sunset with their ill-gotten gains they are going to have to find a way to evade the authorities, something they may find difficult to do with what is clearly a limited amount of bitcoin and blockchain knowledge.
The Guardian’s story emphasises just how traceable bitcoin can be. Any self-respecting criminal mastermind won’t be in business long if they plan to run their global empire using bitcoin. If I were Doctor Evil, I’d be sticking to good old greenbacks and $500 notes. They are far less traceable and don’t leave an indelible trail to the front door of your mountain hideaway.
The truth is out there. Can you handle it?
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed here represent those of the contributor, not necessarily those of CoinCorner.