Bitcoin may have been a shining star for investors during most of December, but criminals are starting to look elsewhere. Instead, privacy coins such as Monero are gaining criminal attention as they are created to avoid tracking.
Virtual Currency’s Newest Breed
Monero is one of a new form of cryptocurrency designed specifically to avoid being tracked. As a result of this feature, criminals are falling for this crypto and are losing their thrill for Bitcoin. Privacy coins have been climbing at an increasing rate over the last couple of months. They have enjoyed a considerable advantage as law enforcers around the world work to monitor individuals using Bitcoin.
Chainanalysis and many other analytic firms are improving their ability to spot and flag the types of digital stockpiles which are frequently signs of money laundering or crime. These law enforcers send alerts to exchanges and block criminals from being able to convert their crypto funds into traditional currencies.
Alarm Bells in the E.U.
Three months ago, Europol, the law enforcement agency of the European Union sounded the alarm on the subject. It issued a report saying that “other cryptocurrencies such as monero, ethereum and Zcash are gaining popularity within the digital underground.”
Cybercriminals using ransomware to stop victims from being able to access their computers until they have paid a ransom have started demanding the new privacy coins instead of traditional currencies. On December 18, the hackers that seized 190,000 WordPress sites every hour were demanding their payments in Monero to have the sites released, said the Wordfence security company.
According to Matt Suiche, the founder of Comae Technologies, a security firm based in Dubai, Monero has become “one of the favorites, if not the favorite,” for ransomware attack demands.
Monero Outperformed Bitcoin
During the last few months last year, Monero managed to outperform even Bitcoin. In November and December, Monero managed to quadruple its value, reaching $349, according to coinmarketcap.com.
This makes it one of several new cryptocurrencies that managed to beat Bitcoin’s incredible performance near the end of 2017. Bitcoin, the world’s most valuable digital currency, increased its own value by about double during that period.