By now, many of us may have already heard about that part of the internet called the dark web. To put it simply, it is described as a place where illegal activities or questionable transactions occur via the internet. There is a difference between the dark web and the deep web. The deep web is where information that cannot be found by search engines is housed. It is not part of the world wide web, which houses public information. The dark web houses information that can only be accessed by special browsers. So why has the dark web become the place for cyber-criminal activity? Anonymity and security. Cyber criminals know that their transactions will be very difficult to trace. For the same reason, they have designated cryptocurrency as their means of financial exchange. Many times, cryptocurrency has also been stolen by hackers.
In a report by Carbon Black, about 1.1 billion cryptocurrency-related thefts have already been recorded. There are 12,000 dark web marketplaces, which represent a $6.7 million illicit economy. Cryptocurrency malware is being used to target businesses as well as miners. It crypto-jacks a “privately-owned infrastructure to mine cryptocurrency.” There have been several high-profile crimes involving cryptocurrency and the dark web. Earlier this year, Mark Karpeles was accused of embezzling ¥341 million of a client’s money and manipulating data. However, the founder of the defunct Mt. Gox was only convicted of “manipulating company records.” He was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison, but the sentence was suspended over four years.
Yet, for all the cryptocurrency-related thefts and purchases on the dark web, cryptocurrency is still the most secure way to make a transaction. Unfortunately, for every new product or service that comes out in the market, there are also corresponding number of criminals who are eager to try and use it in a negative way. Take fiat money, for example. It was created to facilitate exchanges in an economy. It can be used to make “good” purchases, such as buying clothes or a home. It can also be used in “bad” purchases, such as buying drugs and weapons. And many have stolen fiat money because of its value.
Cryptocurrency has a great deal to offer, in that it can be used anywhere in the world to make a variety of purchases, from a cup of coffee to a home. More merchants are accepting cryptocurrency as it becomes regulated, including KFC Canada, Microsoft, and Overstock. There are even bitcoin ATMs. The number of bitcoin ATMs has grown exponentially in the past three years from 757 to 5,457! A person can use the ATM to buy digital currency with cash. The digital transaction is made and the bitcoin (or another cryptocurrency) is transferred to a digital wallet or receipt. Some bitcoin ATMs allow for two-way transactions. Also, cryptocurrency has security measures fiat money does not.
As cryptocurrency has evolved since the creation of Bitcoin, security has been a top concern. As such, there are secure wallets and exchanges. Businesses can now create their own wallets and put in a number of features, such as encryption and auto-rejection. There are also crypto custody services, which many financial institutions are starting to implement (e.g. Bank Frick).
Cryptocurrency is fast becoming an alternative to fiat currency and more secure. There will be some who will use it for negative activities. Yet, what cryptocurrency has to offer far outweighs the negative. It will allow people to have more freedom with their financial choices, without the worries of fiat money.