Consumer Apps Claiming “Democratization of Encryption” Facilitate Crime

Date: 14 Apr 2019 Category : | Author: Graham Penrose

The combination of cryptocurrency and encrypted mass market consumer messaging apps mean that it is a “gold rush” for cybercrims. It won’t last long when these consumer apps, claiming the “democratization of encryption” as their motive, are forced to follow the same KYC/AML rigour that CommsLock self-imposes under its community “duty of care” protocols.

Homeless Drug Dealers Re-Housed

Evicted dark web drug merchants have turned to “popular” apps as a new outlet to reach their base. They often use street graffiti to advertise their new account names to potential customers. Bots are frequently then used to communicate with their “customers” when they do make contact.

A dark web researcher who infiltrated some of these channels on the messaging app Telegram explained that bots are used to communicate with customers for two reasons – convenience and in an attempt to deflect liability. The researcher shared images of the channel names spray-painted on walls near transport hubs and other public places.

This shift follows the general crackdown by law enforcement and intelligence agencies on illicit online Dark Web marketplaces. Some of the more notable seizures and takedowns in recent times being Silk Road I, Silk Road II, Hansa Market, and Alpha Bay. The introduction of alleged end-to-end encryption by these mass market and “free” consumer apps and by association the potential “anonymity” of users has also prompted the migration.

Crypto Currencies & Consumer Messaging Apps Are Their Oxygen

Criminal syndicates are turning away in droves from traditional crime to focus on online crime, yielding better returns with an exponentially lower risk of being nicked. Cryptocurrency is being used to reduce the loss of illicit profits through tradional AML structures and asset seizures.

Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, and Ripple are some of the more popular cryptocurrencies amongst the 1,600 or so now available. Additionally, Monero and Zcash, are “privacy” coins that can be used to launder money and make it even harder for law enforcement to track and seize. Monero even specifies on its website that its currency is “designed to be private, secure and untraceable”.

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