An Anatomy of Crypto-Enabled Cybercrimes
30 Pages Posted: 18 Aug 2022 Last revised: 11 Sep 2022
Date Written: July 30, 2022
While the advent of cryptocurrencies and digital assets holds promise for improving and disrupting financial systems by offering cheap, quick, and secure transfer of value, it also opens up new payment channels for cybercrimes. A prerequisite to solving a problem is understanding the nature of the problem. Assembling a diverse set of public, proprietary, and hand-collected data, including dark web conversations in Russian, we conduct the first detailed anatomy of crypto-enabled cybercrimes and highlight relevant economic issues. Our analyses reveal that a few organized ransomware gangs dominate the space and have evolved into sophisticated corporate-like operations with physical offices, franchising, and affiliation programs. Their techniques have also become more aggressive over time, entailing multiple layers of extortion and reputation management. Blanket restrictions on cryptocurrency usage may prove ineffective in tackling crypto-enabled cybercrime and hinder innovations. Instead, blockchain transparency and digital footprints enable effective forensics for tracking, monitoring, and shutting down dominant cybercriminal organizations.
Keywords: Blockchain Forensics, Digital Footprints, Cryptocurrency, Cybercrime, Ransomware
JEL Classification: F24, F52, G15, G18, G23, G38, K42
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation