Featured Article

Sleuths on the cyber trail

Andy Greenberg, the award-winning WIRED reporter, talks about his latest book on bitcoin tracing and how law enforcement still has the upper hand in its fight against cyberfraudsters and other criminals on the dark web.

Andy Greenberg first became fascinated with the dark web and the tools that give people anonymity online when he landed a job as the security reporter at Forbes in the mid-2000s. It seemed at the time that law enforcement and even intelligence agencies couldn’t lift the virtual veil that hid all the wrongdoing taking place in this relatively new digital world.

His first book, “This Machine Kills Secrets,” dug deep into the so-called cypherpunk movement of the 1990s and how it empowered whistleblowers like Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks.

Cypherpunks wanted to thwart surveillance and take power away from governments and corporations and give it to individuals. They not only saw encryption tools as a way to communicate secretly, but they also dreamed of a day when they could have secret money that would allow them to make untraceable transactions.

That day came with the introduction in 2009 of bitcoin, the now famous virtual currency designed as a peer-to-peer payment system whose transactions are recorded on a digital distributive ledger called blockchain. Here was an untraceable payment system — cypherpunks’ “holy grail,” as Greenberg describes it — helping to popularize bitcoin’s use on darknet websites and sullying its reputation as a money-laundering tool.

Greenberg’s latest book, “Tracers in the Dark,” is about how a group of law enforcement officials, academics and technologists busted that myth to show that bitcoin movements can be traced across the internet.

The award-winning WIRED reporter talks to Fraud Magazine about how these sleuths helped bring about some of the biggest busts in the cyberworld, what fraud examiners can do to learn the tools of the trade and how new crypto assets may give criminals the upper hand. (The interview has been edited for length and clarity.)

For full access to story, members may sign in here.

Not a member? Click here to Join Now. Or Click here to sign up for a FREE TRIAL.