Cryptocurrency Monero Gains Popularity Among Cybercriminals

Experts point out that privacy-centric cryptocurrency Monero XMR/USD is becoming increasingly popular among cybercriminals, taking away a part of Bitcoin's BTC/USD cake.

What Happened: According to a Sunday CNBC report, Chief Information Security Officer at cyberthreat intelligence company Digital Shadows Rick Holland said that "the more savvy criminals are using Monero."

Former Chairman of Europe's top cryptography firm Ultimaco Fred Thiel explained the advantages that this coin has over Bitcoin in this case.

"On the Bitcoin blockchain, you can see what wallet address transacted, how many Bitcoin, where it came from, where it’s going. [...] With Monero, [the blockchain] obfuscates the wallet address, the amount of the transactions, who the counter-party was, which is pretty much exactly what the bad actors want."

While experts admit that Bitcoin still dominates the ransomware, computer viruses asking for a crypto ransom in exchange for restoring the user's access to his data, scene, Monero is quickly gaining ground.

Holland said that one ransomware group — REvil — goes as far as to "give discounts or request payments in Monero, just in the past couple months." 

“It’s almost like we’re seeing, at least from a cyber criminal perspective, a Monero, because it has inherently more privacy than some of the other coins out there (sic)," he continued.

While those features meant that cybercriminals are adopting Monero, regulated actors tend to refrain from dabbling in it.

Portfolio manager and Quantum Economics founder pointed out that Monero "certainly isn’t enjoying as much from the recent wave of institutional investments" and pointed out that many regulated cryptocurrency exchanges decided not to list the coin over regulatory concerns.

As a consequence, ransomware groups requesting it as payment find it harder to get paid.

“If you’re a corporation and you want to acquire a bunch of monero to pay somebody, it’s very hard to do. [...] I would wager to say the U.S. and other regulators are going to shut them [monero] down pretty hard," Thiel explained.

Former Central Intelligence Agency Case Officer Peter Marta, who now advises companies about cybersecurity, points out that cybersecurity insurance firms "often refuse to reimburse a ransom payment if it’s been in Monero."

The reason is that the insurer cannot establish whether the cybercriminals were on a sanction list if Monero is used.

"One of the things that insurers will always ask for is what type of due diligence the victim company conducted, before making the try to minimize the chance that the payment goes to an entity on the sanctions list," Marta added.

Price Action: Ranked 27th on data platform Coinmarketcap, Monero (XMR) was trading at $268.79, with a 10.22% increase in price over the last twenty-four hours.

The trading volume stood at over $224 million, with a current market cap of almost $5 billion.

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