Cryptocurrency & the Underground Economy

Executive Summary

For years the underground economy of cybercrime has been financially motivated to constantly evolve and adopt new tactics, tools and procedures (TTPs).  Nowhere is this more evident than in underground marketplaces, where goods and services range from stolen identity and credit card information to stolen account credentials.

Modern threat actors understand that any public and private data trails can facilitate attribution efforts, thwart operations, and lead to their capture.  Historically, this cognizance has led to repeated attempts to achieve anonymity and repudiation via para-financial instruments (e.g., LibertyReserve); however, with the rise of cryptocurrency, crimeware actors have found a powerful instrument to obfuscate financial activity, evade detection, and ultimately safeguard their profits.

With a market cap currently estimated at over $300 billion, it’s undeniable that the cryptocurrency market has been clearly influenced if not pioneered by the cybercrime underground. This trend will continue as long as cryptocurrency provides key operational benefits (to crimeware actors) such as little to no regulation, acceptable anonymity level, and a decentralized and resilient architecture.

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