Bitcoin has been increasingly used by hackers and cybercriminals. There have been numerous instances of bitcoin related cybercrimes, making the digital currency synonymous with the currency for criminals.
The recent report released by Europol stating that bitcoin is on its way to become the most preferred currency for cybercriminals doesn’t come as a surprise. The report, Internet Organized Crime Threat Assessment (IOCTA) is part of an annual threat assessment for internet related crimes that was released on 30th of September 2015.
The European Police Office, known in short as Europol is a law enforcement agency tasked with investigating and combating international crime on the European Union territory. Europol’s IOCTA 2015 reports sets the precedent to the EMPACT Operational Action Plan for 2016.
The IOCTA report mentions that close to half of the total crime related transactions happen over bitcoin network instead of conventional channels involving fiat currency. The report includes comprehensive analysis of potential risks and threats that the law enforcement authorities may face in the future. This will help law enforcement agencies to mobilize force and implement required training programs for their officers to tackle these threats.
IOCTA 2015 also mentions the potential threat posed by peer to peer digital currency based marketplaces like OpenBazaar. Drawing form Silk Road’s experience, OpenBazaar is considered to be a potential safe haven for drug dealers and those who deal with other contraband and illegal substances in different territories.
The report also touches upon regulations, application and effectiveness of these digital currency regulations. Europol suggests an efficient public -private partnership model between law enforcement agencies and private companies to tackle the growing threat of cybercrimes. IOCTA 2015 warns about the rise in number of hacking and malware attacks. Cybercriminals are using ransomware, social engineering, resorting to blackmail and more to make a quick buck, generally in bitcoins.
With the IOCTA 2015 report out, it is now up to the European security agencies and governments to create policies, implement laws and regulations to set a mechanism in place that can effectively tackle these rising issues which left unchecked will get exacerbated in the future.