The problem has long plagued bank robbers and drug smugglers: how to transport and hide huge sums of ill-gotten gains without getting caught?
In the past few years, ransomware hackers have found an almost perfect solution — cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. It’s fast. It’s easy. Best of all, it’s largely anonymous and hard to trace.
“You now have a possibility to move millions of dollars worth of cryptocurrency across national boundaries in seconds,” said Yonatan Striem-Amit, a co-founder of Cybereason, a Boston-based company that offers protection from hackers.
“It really is a very powerful tool in the hands of criminals to perform money laundering, to shift currency from one state to another in a way that’s in a sense untraceable and definitely uncontrollable.”
Until recently, many cyber crimes involved the small-scale theft of individual credit cards or bank accounts.