Cybersecurity reports published by Aqua Security and Symantec Enterprise have revealed that privacy-focused protocol Monero, with its native token XMR, was often used for cryptojacking attempts this year.
Claiming to be a “secure, private, and untraceable” cryptocurrency, XMR is chosen by cybercriminals to commit illegal crypto mining schemes. Even the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is willing to pay thousands of dollars just to break into its system.
Cryptojacking threats arise in 2020
By definition, cryptojacking is an emerging online threat that involves mining cryptocurrencies on a computer or mobile device. It is a serious problem as it can take over web browsers easily. According to Symantec, there was a 163% increase in browser-based cryptojacking activity in the Q2 of 2020.
Symantec pointed out that the increase of cryptojacking incidents was due to the surge in the value of Bitcoin (BTC) and Monero (XMR), which are both mined by malicious actors using browser-based cryptojacking malware.
Per Aqua Security’s report, cryptojacking attacks rose sharply to over 250% from the second half of 2019 up to the first half of 2020. Out of the overall count of cybercrime committed during this period, 95% of them are caused by cryptojacking.
Despite sounding like a complicated task, cryptojacking doesn’t even require significant technical skills. According to The New Gold Rush report, cryptojacking kits are available on the dark web for as cheap as $30. With its high risk for business and individuals, Russian cybersecurity firm Kaspersky called cryptojacking the “new favorite cash cow of cybercriminals.”
Hackers tend to prefer anonymous cryptocurrencies like Monero due to its features that make it harder for authorities to track any illegal activity associated with them. Reports are saying that Monero-based mining tools are often used to execute the cryptojacking attacks.
US focuses on tracking crypto transactions
Alarmed by the potential of cryptocurrencies to be involved in money laundering activities and other types of cybercrimes, efforts are being carried out to track cryptocurrency transactions.
Over a year ago, the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) started by settling cases with two companies that had undergone initial coin offerings (ICOs). SEC Chairman Jay Clayton also said that aside from bitcoin and ether, the commission considers cryptocurrencies, particularly Monero, as securities.
More recently, the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) revealed that it is willing to pay $625,000 to whoever can crack the layer-two privacy protocol of Monero. The agency stated that:
The use of privacy coins is becoming more popular for general use and is also seeing an increase in use by illicit actors.
Alongside this, they also want to track other cryptocurrency transactions facilitated under Layer 2 network protocols such as Bitcoin’s Lightning Network. The IRS said that $500,000 will be distributed after the first proof-of-concept was submitted and the remaining $125,000 will be given once following the full examination and launch of the plan.
Monero (XMR), dedicated to financial privacy
Debunking the notion that Monero imposes higher risk due to its decentralized and private nature, the Monero team shared a recently published whitepaper from Perkins Coie, an international law firm that specializes in business law and litigation.
Monero highlighted excerpts from the document, including:
“Not only do privacy coins provide public benefits that substantially outweigh their risks, existing AML regulations properly and sufficiently cover those risks, providing a proven framework for combatting money laundering and related crimes.”
— Monero || #xmr (@monero) September 15, 2020
Focusing on XMR’s mainstream adoption, they also believe that “privacy coins essentially combine the benefits that the traditional financial system and initial cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin offered.” The project’s mission of promoting financial privacy to crypto users seems to be a greater leverage than putting them in danger.
As of the time of writing, the price of XMR is at the range of $90, with a 7d gain of 8.9%. The crypto community continues to support the altcoin amid actions being taken to track privacy-enabled cryptocurrency transactions.