Since the 18and century, humanity has witnessed revolutions that changed the world forever, for the better. The nearest revolution we have witnessed is the advent of the Internet, whose influence is so enormous that we can no longer imagine our life without it.
However, you would be seriously mistaken if you thought that everything ended with the Internet. Humanity, from now on, is at the beginning of another revolution – a revolution within a revolution. This torch is carried by cryptocurrencies and their fundamental structure – blockchain technology.
This new technology promises to change the Internet as we know it, from everything related to the financial sector to the information sector. The main selling point of this technology is the creation of a system by the people, for the people and for the people. And this very technology has begun to catch everyone’s attention across the globe, with Bitcoin and its companions making headlines with every passing day.
Although the potential of cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology is vast, it is by no means without its drawbacks. Right now, the one that plagues the cryptoverse the most is none other than ransomware attacks. That being said, it should be noted that ransomware attacks are not exclusively a cryptographic issue.
Notably, now that this problem is highlighted, several platforms have been proposed to limit its association with cryptography, or even cut it off altogether. And at the forefront of this effort is Binance, one of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges in the world.
What is ransomware?
Now, as the name suggests, ransomware is a type of malware that when it infects your computer or any other software device, it stops you.
You will only regain control of the devices when you pay the ransom demanded by the bad actors. Think of it as if you were locked out of your own home and the only way to get back is to pay the person who put themselves in this situation.
An attack like this was first reported in Russia in 2005. Since then, millions of such attacks have taken place regularly around the world. And, with the creation of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, they have become the preferred means of extorting money from victims.
The most notable ransomware attack associated with Bitcoin so far is the want to cry ransomware attack that took place in 2017. The malware used for this attack was such that it spread from one infected PC to another over networks. The nature of the malware has labeled it a global epidemic.
The four-day malware attack affected around 200,000 people and nearly 150 countries. The attack saw the perpetrators requiring the ransom in Bitcoin, with more than $140,000 paid by victims in cryptocurrency.
Take charge of the future
As the use cases of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies for illicit activities grow, so too do efforts to curb these activities. This effort has seen the evolution of several crypto and blockchain companies actively participating in tracing the source of cryptocurrencies and the movements of illicit actors.
And the one leading by example is Binance, one of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges in the world.
The cryptocurrency exchange has partnered with several law enforcement agencies and implemented advanced methods to keep tabs on the trading activities performed on the platform. The exchange also has a dedicated team – the Security Data Science Team – which focuses on building anti-fraud systems and scaling investigations.
In a recent blog post, the exchange said,
“At Binance, we believe that strong exchange controls, smart legislation, and ongoing education will go a long way in weeding out bad actors”
Thanks to its security team and strong AML detection systems, the exchange managed to eliminate two malicious actors associated with the crypto-space. The first crackdown took place in mid-2020 as part of the Bulletproof Exchanger project.
For that Case, the exchange collaborated with Ukrainian cyberpolice after detecting suspicious activity. This, in turn, led to the arrest of a cybercriminal organization linked to a ransomware campaign, accused of laundering over $42 million in cryptocurrencies. In this particular case, the bad actors were using nested exchanges to move their illicit cryptos.
“Projects such as our ‘bulletproof interchange’ and our ongoing partnerships with law enforcement, as well as security and blockchain analytics companies, will be a driving force for improve cybersecurity measures across the crypto industry.”
The second Case the exchange has been involved in arresting a criminal organization involved in laundering nearly $500 million worth of ransomware attacks. The group in question is known as FANCYCAT, with its activities involving cyber attacks such as Cl0p and Petya and money laundering from dark web operations.
The exchange’s anti-money laundering system has detected suspicious activity being conducted on the exchange. This prompted the platform to dig deeper using clusters. Following this, the exchange worked alongside TRM Labs and Crystal – blockchain analytics companies. This led the exchange to notice that these accounts were linked to the Cl0p and Petya money laundering attack funds. The total funds from these illegal activities amounted to nearly $500 million.
This case was immediately classified as high profile because the Cl0p ransomware attack was associated with leading countries and universities. The ransomware attack took four Korean companies and three American universities hostage. The universities in question were the famous Stanford Medical School, the University of Maryland and the University of California.
This operation eventually resulted in the handshake of the exchange with several regulatory authorities. This included the Ukrainian Cyber Police, the Korean National Police Agency, US law enforcement agencies, the Swiss Federal Office of Police, and the Spanish Civil Guard.
Interestingly, Binance managed to detect this on its platform despite the activities happening regularly by taking a two-pronged approach. The first is to implement advanced detection systems and mechanisms to identify and eliminate suspicious accounts. The second part of the approach is working closely with law enforcement to take the right steps to bring down criminal groups.
Since then, the company has adopted several other measures to not only bring down criminal groups engaged in illicit activities, but also the platforms that enable them.
Needless to say, the leading cryptocurrency exchange is on a mission to weed out bad actors from the crypto space.
Disclaimer: This is a paid publication and should not be considered news or advice.