Interpol Holds First Darknet and Cryptocurrency Working Group

INTERPOL launched its introductory working group on DarkNet and Cryptocurrencies at the INTERPOL Global Complex for Innovation in Singapore on April 3. They established that the surge of Altcoins, which projects itself as a substitute for Bitcoin, is very likely to be an imminent menace to law enforcement. In 2015, they held a Darknet training course as part of their programs to identify strategies used by organized crimes. The effect of the previously organized courses is evident, and though a certain degree of crime has been controlled, Darknet still remains a big influence on online crime.

Unfortunately, although some businesses are promoted by cryptocurrencies, crime also pollutes the markets, thriving on the anonymity of cryptocurrency.

Illegal activities such as frauds, scam, and software for ransomware attacks are rampant on the Darknet with the anonymity as a weapon. All this happens because of the decentralized nature and lack of regulation in cryptocurrencies systems, being utilized by hackers to run away with millions of dollars and making crime prevention difficult. This has left people in a quandary not knowing whether to continue investing or spurn the idea of making profits in cryptocurrencies. “Virtual currencies, perhaps most notably Bitcoin, have captured the imagination of some, struck fear among others, and confused the heck out of the rest of us,” said The US Senator, Thomas Carper.

Although this threat is posed, the international police organization, INTERPOL, has not remained passive and they aim to fight crime and make the world a safer place. Over the years, they have tracked the growth spurts in the cashless system and found ways to eschew it. They have organized courses to foster the fight against crime, and this is part of their goal. They also seek to provide courses in the areas of drug and human trafficking. Aside from the organized courses, they partner both public and private organizations in line with their goal to combine forces to fight against crime. As expected, they combined forces with Europol to uphold the fight against cybercrime last year.

In collaboration with the German Bavarian Ministry of Justice, INTERPOL recruited 39 members standing in for 18 participating countries and Europol on April 3. The candidates identified that the sharp surge in darknet markets, various cryptocurrencies, and cryptocurrency mixers was an imminent threat. Although using forensics helps in tracking down criminals, it has become more of a cat and mouse chase since criminals keep upgrading their systems to defeat the efforts of law enforcement. One of the difficulties involves anonymity. There have been many reports linking the rapid rise of cyber crimes and other related crime to the shield of being anonymous which the darknet provides free of charge. This has made Interpol consider all darknet crime elimination as the first option to uprooting online crimes.

With an annual budget of €113 million, Interpol stays committed to facilitating cooperation to fight against online crimes. However, the number of darknet users has increased significantly after the Silk Road shut down.

An idea that stirred up emotions of members was on the importance of exchanging and sharing information to accentuate and rationalize procedures and efforts. Advanced uses of forensic artifacts and its benefits were also highlighted at the meeting. Additional suggestions included the creation of an international investigation guides and the use of database concepts to store and retrieve knowledge in the domain of cryptocurrency. Members were encouraged by the Director of the INTERPOL Innovation Centre, Anita Hazenberg, to work together as a strong collaborative force in combating crime associated with cryptocurrency.

As many technological methods are used for online crimes with many upgrades, regulatory bodies ought to understand this highly advanced technology of cryptocurrency to equally match the threat it imposes. The members, therefore, agreed to adequately prepare for skill development and training to increase their competence and performance. Challenging areas like anonymity, decentralized escrow services and obtaining tracking tools for Altcoins, all have to be well mastered and understood before the October 2018 meeting in Germany.