Russian Hackers May Have Carried Out Largest Ever Crypto Exchange Theft

Bitcoin may be a pain to spend. It’s energy-guzzling, perilously slow and, with the prospect of dazzling returns, perhaps best to HODL ‘til you retire. But Bitcoin can count a minimum of one group of spendthrifts among its users: Russian hackers accused of hacking within the 2016 election.


According to a released, the Russian intelligence officers who orchestrated the 2016 hacks of the Democratic National Committee and Clinton campaign funded their operation using $95,000 worth of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. The hackers allegedly used the funds to get the domains, servers, and accounts involved in obtaining and disseminating the stolen materials.

Bitcoin, however, isn’t necessarily the foremost obvious choice for those looking to hide their transactions. While pseudonymous, payments on the Bitcoin blockchain are removed from untraceable, an undeniable fact that has inspired competing currencies marketed to true privacy hounds, like Zcash and Monero. Yet it remains the workhorse of hackers for a straightforward reason: Bitcoin is, compared to competitors, a breeze to spend round the world.



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“The payments of products and services are visiting happen within the most liquid and straightforward to use environment. right away that’s Bitcoin, and it’s visiting be for a protracted time,” says Jonathan Levin, co-founder and COO of Chainalysis. The company’s software, which traces connections between entities on the Bitcoin blockchain to detect fraud and concealing, has been employed by agencies including the DOJ to conduct cybercrime investigations.


While Levin couldn’t confirm whether Chainalysis software was involved within the current investigation, blockchain analysis typically focuses on intermediaries like the exchanges that facilitate cryptocurrency purchases. Those exchanges, which are subject to anti-money laundering regulations, can act as a link to kinds of real-world identification, like addresses and bank accounts.


The indictment says that the hackers took additional steps to hide their tracks, purchasing Bitcoin using prepaid cards and via peer-to-peer exchanges, which facilitate direct transactions between individuals, often unsurveilled. per the indictment, they also mined their own Bitcoin, using those freshly minted funds to get the domain, which disseminated the stolen materials, furthermore because the tools employed in the spearfishing campaigns.


“This may be a good case in point showing that the kinds of cases cryptocurrency touches has broadened to the complete spectrum between local crimes and national security issues,” says Levin. Increasingly, investigators within the US are catching on. On Wednesday, President Trump signed an executive order forming a Task Force on Market Integrity and Consumer Fraud—which focuses on digital currency fraud and money laundering—to coordinate investigations across federal agencies.


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