The Dark Side of Bitcoin: Illegal Activities, Fraud, and Bitcoin
In mid-May, countless people across the world were attacked by a malware program that locked their computers and demanded money to unlock, in an attack dubbed WannaCry. The attackers received thousands of dollars in the form of Bitcoin. Bitcoin is anonymous and easy, which means its a favorite among criminals. Just how is Bitcoin used by criminals, how can you protect yourself from some Bitcoin scammers, and should Bitcoin face higher regulation to prevent criminals from being able to use the cryptocurrency? This article shall delve into the dark side of Bitcoin, and look at some of the negative aspects that present themselves.
On May 12 the WannaCry attack started in Europe. Using a malware software that exploited flaws in Windows security that was leaked from the NSA, the malware spread like wildfire, especially on May 15. Soon after the large spread on the 15th, a web researcher was able to drastically slow the attacks by discovering a kill switch. The malware locked a user out of their computer and demanded money payable in Bitcoin in order to unlock. Despite the quickness in slowing the attack, the attackers received thousands of dollars in Bitcoin.
The attack sparked renewed media interest in Bitcoin, arguably which helped spark the massive increase in price as I outline in a previous article, but it also caused many to question whether Bitcoin is too easy for criminals to use to receive their ill-gotten gains. An example of this is a strongly worded letter in Financial Times. The author argues that states work hard to limit illegal activity with state backed money, such as the EU outlawing 500 Euro bills, but do nothing to stop Bitcoin. She argues that Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have only allowed crime to grow, and have produced nothing else productive.
"A big part of financial freedom is having your heart and mind free from worry about the 'What-Ifs' of life." – @therealsuzeorman
You deserve it. As the world changes and adopts new ways to transfer value, it behooves you to take advantage of what just makes sense.