Europol Cybercrime Report Condemns Bitcoin and End-to-end Encryption

Cybercrime is a threat of all ages, even though things seem to be getting progressively worse over time. Europol has issued a new warning against the mounting number of online crimes. At the same time, they are also concerned about the mounting number of opportunities for criminal gain. Bitcoin is, of course, mentioned as well.

The number of threats posed by internet criminals has never been higher than today. Unfortunately, that situation will not change anytime soon, as new opportunities for criminal gain keep popping up. Europol’s Cybercrime Centre has run a total of 131 cyber operations last year, which is an 81% increase compared to 2014.

Bitcoin Plays A Big Role In Cybercrime

It is evident for everyone to see something will have to change. Collaboration against cybercrime is the only way forward, and cyber investigations will need to be prioritized. Mainly encrypted and anonymous services remain a  key hurdle that needs to be overcome, according to Europol.

Hardly anyone will be surprised to find out Bitcoin is a big culprit in this report as well. Europol feels cybercriminals are expanding their use of virtual currencies, both in the ransom and extortion schemes. Given the surge in ransomware infections throughout 2015 and 2016, that statement is factually correct.

What is rather interesting is how the Europol team acknowledges high-value targets are in a world of trouble. Rather than individual users, cybercrime is shifting the attention to enterprises and upper management. Educating the people on the dangers lurking around every email or web page should be a top priority as well.

Germany is named as a region where cybercrime seems to thrive as of late:

‘While many European countries no doubt have some form of domestic digital underground, Germany is considered by some researchers to have one of the fastest-growing underground markets within the EU, although much of its crimeware products focus only on domestic targets. ”

Similarly to how most governments feel, Europol is not too keen on end-to-end encryption either. The report mentions how several cases of child abuse have been live streamed over encrypted connections. This is a global threat, but weakening encryption standards may not be the best answer to solve this problem.

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