Cryptocurrency, particularly bitcoin, first came into the spotlight largely in part due to its relation with illegal drug transactions over the Darknet. The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has revealed they are now tracking transactions on the blockchain made by illegal drug traffickers attempting to cover their trail through the use of cryptocurrency.
ICE’s deputy assistant director Greg Nevano announced in testimony to a Senate committee on Jan. 25 that the agency has noticed a dramatic uptick in the use of cryptocurrency to pay for drug trafficking. Without giving too much detail, Nevano divulged their strategy has been to monitor cryptocurrency exchanges in particular to identify any potential money laundering tied to drug trade.
ICE is allegedly developing tools to analyze cryptocurrency transactions in an attempt to discover the identities behind the transactions. They have also begun providing training nationally and internationally to cryptocurrency investigators to help tackle this issue.
These efforts by ICE, if successful, would negate blockchain technology’s key feature of anonymity. While this would allow the government to track down massive darknet drug operations, it would also leave everyday users vulnerable to being tracked. If the technology to do this leaked, it would play back into criminal’s hands who could use it to identify civilians with large cryptocurrency holdings in order to target them in the physical world.
Based on ICE’s unwillingness to divulge too many details of this technology, it is highly unlikely they are anywhere near the means to pull this operation off. Blockchain technology is developing at an exponential rate, and its libertarian roots motivate developers to defy government intervention such as this. Should ICE find a crack in current blockchain technology, by the time they could implement it, the version would likely already be irrelevant.
About McCann Global:
In today’s complex legal cases, evidence is rarely singularly digital or traditional, but begins in one realm and quickly cross over into the other. The days of an investigation involving merely taking statements and photocopying documents are all but things of the past. Modern evidence gathering requires the agility to go where the evidence leads, no matter the source.
This not only means overcoming the challenge of understanding the ever-evolving web of digital evidence, but owning the entire evidentiary space; The nexus of both the digital and the non-digital.
McCann Cyber runs the table in this space. We either have the digital or traditional expert you need on staff, or we know that expert…. personally. McCann operates its own dedicated state of the art digital forensics lab, staffed with certified technicians, supplemented with a former cyber prosecutor, veteran law enforcement investigators, government cybersecurity experts, and certified fraud examiners. McCann is the only turnkey solution for the gathering, processing, analyzing, and reporting all types of evidence, no matter the source. Our team, drawn from both government service and private industry, has the resources, knowledge, and experience to provide expert testimony ensuring the evidence is both relevant and defensible in all proceedings.
McCann Cyber IS that nexus.