A recent indictment filed against 12 Russian intelligence officials accused of stealing emails from the Democratic National Committee in order to subvert Hillary Clinton’s campaign alleges hackers were paid for their actions using bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.
The applied use of cryptocurrency may have unfortunate consequences for the digital asset moving forward as various news outlets continue to cite the technology as a controversial, completely anonymous technology designed to facilitate crimes.
I’ve been warning of the potential dangers of @Bitcoin being used by nefarious actors. Now, we know Russia used #cryptocurrency to fund their meddling campaign in 2016. The #crypto industry needs to step their game up. @blockchain @BTCFoundation @DigitalChamber https://t.co/BTa8rsbtln
— Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (@repcleaver) July 13, 2018
While the misguided criticism demonstrates hypocritical and impulsive judgments, it seems only natural that the blame by sharp-worded lawmakers needed a target. The sudden misunderstanding and public denouncement of cryptocurrency has users questioning the possibility of strict regulation moving forward
The details featured in the indictment prove that the actions involved in hacking the DNC were not as covert or anonymous as one might think, as the details demonstrate:
The Defendants conspired to launder the equivalent of more than $95,000 through a web of transactions structured to capitalize on the perceived anonymity of cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin.
They also enlisted the assistance of one or more third-party exchangers who facilitated layers transactions through digital currency exchange platforms providing heightened anonymity.
The research conducted shows that the investigator’s team revealed the approximate method and amount involved in the hacking, which demonstrates that addresses were not inherently tied to identities, and reveal that it would be far from impossible to establish ownership to those involved. Through further investigation, an email address was found that granted access to a bitcoin wallet that was used to pay for a VPN.
Each bitcoin transaction was added to the blockchain, which stands as a public ledger, meaning the identities of those within the party were represented only by identifiers known as bitcoin addresses. Robert Mueller, who is investigating the Russian interference, noted during the press conference that the hackers sought to obscure their identities by utilizing hundreds of different email address to make their transactions.
Mueller alleges that the hackers also utilized bitcoin to lease the servers that administered the malware implanted on the DNC network server and pay for the dcleaker.com domain, which hosted the stolen emails. Bitcoin payments were often made on the same computers that were utilized to conduct hacking.
We’ll have to wait and see whether or not this nefarious use of cryptocurrency will instigate stricter regulations or the mainstream realization that this financial instrument is here to stay.