What smells like nothing, sounds like gibberish, but doesn’t look a thing like any ordinary currency used to pay for goods, bills, housing and all of our daily expenses? Cryptocurrencies, and they’ve taking the world by storm since Bitcoin’s inception in 2009. While crypto has become a more mainstream payment method in various parts of the world, particularly with Bitcoin’s value surge in the first quarter of 2018, darker purposes of its use still dominate in the deep and dark layers of the web.
The repercussions of fake news can be severe and can endanger the lives of individuals and society at large. Whether used to leverage political campaigns, the dark web, (the internet’s underworld that’s crowded with marketplaces of illegal goods, weaponry, and drugs amongst other heinous criminal activities), is also a hub for terrorist dealings, the spread of terror groups’ propaganda, their financial transactions and actual terror financing. Seeing as websites are developed and taken down within minutes or even seconds on the dark web, tracing terrorists’ transactions and activities in this glum realm of the internet is complex, and even more complicated with cryptocurrency’s intervention. With encrypted sites developed on the dark web with every breath we take, transactions are often opened and closed with cryptocurrencies and at an unimaginable speed. Sites disappear, traceability dissipates, and intelligence agencies and their analysts are left to scrape up the bits and pieces of clues and leads that can help close critical investigations. That is, if they’re not utilizing innovative technology and solutions to extract data from the web’s various layers.
Terrorists and terror organization’s leaders, actors, affiliates, and even lone wolves frequently use crypto as tool to finance activities and get paid. This exchange further complicates the traceability of these transactions, with digital coins’ encryption and the use of smart contracts masking their traceability that much more. With the dark web’s intense dynamic, mankind is posed with the challenge to either manually break down the traces of clues terrorists just barely leave behind, or to employ intelligent solutions that can provide key leads in investigative efforts.
The corrupt use of cryptocurrency is frequently at the mercy of today’s terrorist organizations and their cooperatives, as digital coins’ practical, positive and innovative intentions are contorted and used for disheartening circumstances, like ransom payments to terror groups to release kidnapped individuals. This only touches the tip of the iceberg. Terror is spreading and being financed readily and easily with cryptocurrency, as extremist groups target lone wolves that are tech savvy and adept to dark web technology to conspire with them, paying them off in Bitcoin, Litecoin and Ethereum. Everything from cyber attacks, data breaches, encrypted communication to designate location, time and conspirers of terror acts, along with the spread of instructions for committing acts of terror are funded by cryptocurrency – and this phenomenon is spreading like wildfire.
While global intelligence agencies protecting national security and the lives of innocent civilians are hard at work to prevent terror, the prevailing challenge is its detection in the online sphere, despite analysts’ and agents awareness of the dark web’s activities. With terror communication more commonly and deeply rooted in encrypted venues like the dark web, or mobile apps like WhatsApp and Telegram, analysts are facing new world problems that go beyond deterring terror in the real world. They are now actively deterring terror online and constantly coping with the challenge of preventing the financing of terror with cryptocurrencies through various platforms and mobile.
The answer to detecting and deterring real world and online terror: technology prevails. With disruptive solutions that are truly game-changers in the detection of illicit activities like terror, analysts worldwide can transform collected data into measurable clues. Solutions that integrate leading forms of artificial intelligence empower national security agencies to pinpoint initiators of terrorist communication, along with detecting individuals who comply, aid and fund terror.
And as cryptocurrency’s popularity grows, so too will the development of terrorist’s ploys to use digital coins as a means to fund their activities. The trend of using crypto for terror financing evolves every second, and so too will the development of technologies that advance the work of justice keepers like intelligence analysts and their governing agencies globally. With data volumes reaching record highs in today’s ever-changing online world and all of its layers, surface, deep and dark, there has never been a more relevant time to utilize artificial intelligence powered WEBINT solutions to extract intelligent insights. With the recent spike in terror-based cybercrime, data breaches, and the persistence of terror communication through encrypted channels, intelligence agencies’ need for smart software is real, as it becomes an increasingly valuable asset and tool for the protection of society.