With the unending buzz about bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, they are yet to gain public acceptance by the US and UK governments. A lot of people consider bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies to be the future of currency but it has a great flaw which the government cannot come to terms with. The user confidentiality is a great headache for the government because in some cases, the currencies are been used for drug dealing, money laundering or tax evasion.
The BBC has reported a failed money laundering attempt by the hackers behind the Wannacry ransomware. The hackers reportedly tried to conceal their identity by using a virtual currency more anonymous than bitcoin.
Wannacry caught over 200,000 computers in over 150 countries, after which victims paid over $140,000 in bitcoin to three different wallets in all to recover files scuffled by the attack.
In sequence to this, there was so much attention focused on whoever was behind the deadly attack. So, security experts were convinced that the money paid into the wallets would remain intact.
However, earlier this week, the gang behind the attack started the moving the bitcoin out of the wallets they were paid into.
Obviously, moving the bitcoins puts them at risk of tracked down, through their key details. This is exactly what happened as the accounts they used in swapping the bitcoin have been frozen.
The gang had planned to use an exchange network called shapeshift.io, in order to convert them to another currency called Monero. With shapeshift.io, you don’t need an account to run a transaction.
This explains why the gang had opted for this means to maintain their anonymousity. With the Monero digital currency likewise, accounts and transactions are kept private and a transaction cannot be linked to a particular user.
Nevertheless, after the operators of shapeshift.io were informed, the attempt to launder the cash via their platform was thwarted just in time. A spokesman told American business magazine Forbes:
“As of today, we have taken measures to blacklist all addresses associated with the WannaCry attackers that are known to the Shapeshift team. Additionally, we are engaging directly with law enforcement involved with the Wannacry case and will assist them with any needs they may request to apprehend the perpetrators “
It’s quite a relief that the Shapeshift team is not resisting the authority in a desperate time as this. Shapeshift said it would block any further attempts to change the Wannacry bitcoins into Monero or any other crypto currency.
The only consolation with this crypto saga is in the overwhelming cooperation with the government despite the privacy measures. Tech giants should take a cue from this. Security should always maintain a level above privacy in my opinion.