Blockchain Fraud: New Policies and Technologies to Stop Crypto Criminals

Blockchain Fraud: New Policies and Technologies to Stop Crypto Criminals

Blockchain fraud continues to be a massive problem that has hindered the possibilities of new user adoption. Crypto criminals primarily participate in three types of fraud: tax evasion, money laundering, and terrorist funding schemes. Let’s take a look at each of those categories and how legislation and blockchain technology can reduce, or even eliminate, these and other crimes in the near future.

Tax Evasion

Tax evasion is one of the most widespread types of blockchain fraud. Prior to 2017, there wasn’t much crypto-related legislation in existence in most countries. Plus there was little enforcement of what regulations did exist. As we have previously reported, this began to change drastically in 2017.
Despite the fact that regulations are tightening, crypto-related tax evasion is still prevalent. In November 2017, LendEDU conducted a survey that included 564 US-based bitcoin investors. According to the results, approximately 36% of participants planned to knowingly avoid paying capital gains taxes in their 2018 tax filings.

There aren’t any stats to determine if this was the actual result. Still, it’s obvious that many people didn’t view crypto tax evasion as a major crime. And it’s possible that those surveyed weren’t exactly sure how to follow the tax regulations. In 2018, however, there are several guides online on how to follow crypto taxation laws in specific countries. Information is even available on specific categories like taxation on cryptocurrency mining.

New Tax Regulations

Investors need to understand and comply with cryptocurrency tax regulations. In some cases, compliance can be beneficial beyond avoiding the obvious consequences of jail time or fines. For example, it’s possible to report capital losses on crypto investments when filing taxes.

Even in the bear market of 2018, regulatory agencies are focusing more on crypto taxation policies. These efforts aren’t just limited to individual, domestic government policies. International collaboration appears to be on the rise as well. For example, a coalition of five governments (Australia, Canada, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and the United States) joined together to form the Joint Chiefs of Global Tax Enforcement (J5). According to the IRS, this organization aims to “reduce the growing threat posed to tax administrations by cryptocurrencies and cybercrime.”

Blockchain Fraud: An image of a phone showing bitcoin on top of 4 $20 bills, displaying fiat and cryptocurrency
Tax evasion is one of the most common types of blockchain fraud.

Money Laundering

There are several major cases involving the use of cryptocurrencies to launder money. Jerome Powell, Chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve, said in a House Financial Services Committee testimony in July 2018 that “they are very challenging because cryptocurrencies are great if you’re trying to hide or launder money, we have to be very conscious of that.”

Evidence shows that crypto-based money laundering is indeed a major issue. For example, according to a Q2 2018 report released by CipherTrace, crypto criminals laundered $1.2 billion through bitcoin tumblers and privacy coins in a one-year time period during 2017-2018.

Similar to policies dealing with crypto tax evasion, governments are increasing international collaboration to tackle this type of blockchain fraud. G20 member countries are reviewing a possible global anti-money laundering (AML) standard on cryptocurrency before an October 2018 deadline. In addition, member nations have called upon the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) – an intergovernmental organization formed to combat money laundering and terrorist financing – to review how AML standards that are already in place can potentially be applied to regulate cryptocurrencies.

Blockchain fraud: An image showing a dark hallway of jail cells
Governments are collaborating on an international level to stop crypto criminals involved in money laundering.

Terrorist Funding

Some financial institutions (including the Bank of England) and regulatory agencies have warned against the potential use of cryptocurrencies in terrorist funding. For the most part, various studies don’t show any alarming correlation between crypto and terrorist funding. For example, the European Parliament’s Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs conducted tests on the risks of cryptocurrencies. According to the results, cryptocurrencies don’t pose a greater risk than fiat when it comes to enabling terrorist funding.

Since 2017, there has been a push to enact legislation that would try to prevent this kind of blockchain fraud. For example, U.S. lawmakers introduced the “Homeland Security Assessment of Terrorists Use of Virtual Currencies Act” in May 2017. They also proposed the “Financial Technology Innovation and Defense Act” in January 2018. Additionally, another bill called “The FinCen Improvement Act of 2018″ was introduced in the US House of Representatives in July 2018. This bill mentions, “anti-terrorism and anti-money laundering initiatives, including matters involving emerging technologies or value that substitutes for currency, and similar efforts’’.

As of August 2018, none of these bills have gained much traction. Only the “Homeland Security Assessment of Terrorists Use of Virtual Currencies Act” has been able to pass the U.S. House of Representatives.

Blockchain Fraud: A photo of the United States Capitol.
The US Congress has introduced a few bills to stop terrorist funding through cryptocurrencies.

Using Blockchain to Combat Blockchain Fraud and Other Crimes

Yes, in some instances, blockchain fraud makes certain crimes easier for criminals to commit. However, it’s also crucial to understand that many of the above-mentioned crimes have been going on for many decades in the fiat economy.

Even though blockchain fraud is a major issue, blockchain technology has also made it possible to stop many types of crime. For example, some blockchain technologies like Ricardian smart contracts aim to vastly improve the future enforcement of legal agreements. In addition, KYC and AML-focused projects can make transactions in the crypto-based economy much more transparent than what’s possible in the current fiat-based economy.

Conclusion

Crypto criminals do exist and present a challenge to the mainstream adoption of digital currencies. Nonetheless, technical innovation should not be viewed as the foundations for a future dystopia. Likewise, the legislation doesn’t have to stunt the progress of technology.

When it comes to stopping crime and fostering innovation, there isn’t a simple solution. How the future will play out depends a lot on how technologies and legislation develop in the coming years. The reality is that both regulations and technologies are needed in order to empower a future where blockchain can benefit society and mitigate the possibilities of blockchain fraud.

This article was originally published on Coincentral.

Author:

Delton Rhodes

I enjoy researching new, innovative, and interesting blockchain/crypto projects that have the potential to impact the world. Whenever I’m not writing, I’m usually playing sports or producing music.

 

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How is Blockchain Being Applied to Cybersecurity Right Now?

How is Blockchain Being Applied to Cybersecurity Right Now?

We’re getting pretty used to hearing about cool new projects using blockchain. From online marketplaces to green energy; every man, woman, and their respective dogs are busy leaping on the bandwagon. Future promises, flashy launches, impressive white papers… These things are all well and good. But what about practical use cases happening now, starting with cybersecurity?

Blockchain and Cybersecurity

Whenever you talk about the blockchain, you almost always enter a discourse of hypotheticals. This is true in relation to government and commerce, and it’s true of cybersecurity as well. But cybersecurity is a pressing problem, costing the global economy an estimated $450 billion a year.

So, rather than speculate over how blockchain may eventually resolve the woes of this problematic industry, what problems is it tackling now? And which companies are getting their hands dirty (so to speak)?

“Blockchain has plenty of genuine use cases,” says Nick Bilogorskiy, Cybersecurity Strategist at Juniper Networks, “for example decentralized storage, preventing fraud and data theft, and distributed public key infrastructure for user or device authentication.”

Multi-Factor Authentication

DDoS (Deliberate Denial of Service) attacks are one of the most common cybersecurity threats in the industry today. And they are rampant and widespread mainly due to our existing Domain Name System. When we hold data in one centralized location, it’s infinitely easier to break into. With blockchain’s decentralized structure, distributing information over nodes, systems will become virtually impossible to hack.

“Instead of all passwords of users being held in one database in the network operations center of one company, each individual holds their private key,” says Nick Spanos, founder of the Bitcoin Center NYC. “Companies like Equifax and Wells Fargo would never again handle information the way that they did. You would have to hack millions of their users simultaneously–a much more difficult feat.”

Winner of the Microsoft Blockchain Incentive award, blockchain security startup REMME is currently preventing cyber attacks on companies large and small. By eliminating the room for human error, and the simple one-step password system widely used, we close the window for opportunist hackers scouring for easily crackable passwords.

REMME’s robust solution is built on the decentralized ledger and manages and authenticates users and devices through multi-factor authentication. This eliminates the chances of preying on the easiest target for cyber attackers (weak passwords).

The company is also working with several Bitcoin exchanges to help prevent phishing attacks like the Bitfinex attack that lost $60 million (120,000 BTC at the time). They provide the security of an authorized platform based on cryptographic principles and a user-friendly, one-click 2FA.

Improving IoT Security

One of the stumbling blocks in the road of IoT’s growth is the constant threat of device security. According to research by Gemalto, 96 percent of companies and 90 percent of consumers believe that their IoT devices aren’t secure–and that there should be government regulation in place. Their main concern, it seems, is that a hacker will take control of their device, or that their personal data will be stolen.

When baby monitors and medical devices are infected with Malware, and major car manufacturers lose control over their vehicles, the public’s concern is understandable. The thought of losing control of your car or respiratory equipment is indeed panic-inducing. But here too, blockchain is starting to show some results.

IBM has a long history of innovation. So it’s not surprising that they’re leading the charge when it comes to blockchain tech. The IBM Watson IoT Platform is allowing IoT devices to transmit data to blockchain ledgers. This data is then included in shared transactions and records that are tamper-resistant and validated through secure, smart contracts.

Australian telecommunications giant Telstra is also seeing success using blockchain to secure their “smart home” IoT ecosystems, by verifying people’s identity through stored biometric authentication data. And IOTA is also showing promise for the scaling of IoT through its Tangle technology.

Filling the Talent Gap

You may have thought there were more than enough computer engineers to go around. But it turns out that there’s quite a talent shortage when it comes to cybersecurity.

Unemployment in the industry hovers around zero. This means that when new positions crop up, they are extremely hard to fill. And with the constant challenges of emerging tech (and with them, greater cyber threats) by 2020, Frost & Sullivan predict at least 1.8 million vacant positions in the cybersecurity industry.

Companies like PolySwarm, a decentralized antivirus marketplace, incentivize techies around the world to contribute toward fighting cybercrime. Not only does this give bright talent a chance to shine, regardless of their location, education, or history, but it also helps detect cybercrime faster.

Dwell times (the amount of time a virus sits dormant inside a system before activating) is one of the most serious threats today, meaning speed is of the essence. With former McAfee Antivirus CIO Mark Tonnesen as an advisor to the PolySwarm team, stopping cybercriminals in their tracks and preventing attacks is becoming a reality.

Not Everyone’s in Agreement

Of course, the debate about blockchain and its suitability as a technology rages throughout the cybersecurity industry as well. Despite the growing number of use cases and gathering momentum for blockchain, not everyone’s in agreement about its potential.

CEO of Gunner Technology Cody Swann says, “We’ve been inundated with requests for blockchain apps from entrepreneurs. Unfortunately, none of these products have made it past alpha on the blockchain. Why? Because in the vast majority of the cases, the blockchain is an inferior choice to most technologies.”

Worldpay Vice President and Head of Global Cyber Defense & Security Strategy, Peter Tran, is also less than enthused with blockchain technology so far. He believes that artificial intelligence and machine learning have the upper hand in fighting cybercrime. And also that rehauling existing infrastructures may not be an economic reality.

The challenge here will be in making blockchain technology easier, more effective, and cheaper to use. But it’s heartening to know that blockchain is already solving many of our problems and can only go up from here.

Originally published on Coincentral: https://coincentral.com/blockchain-applied-cybersecurity/

“Cryptocurrency Modern Day Payment System or Uncalculated Risks?” can be read on Amazon Kindle Unlimited for Free  You can find more interesting articles by visiting us on one of the following platforms: AML Knowledge Centre (LinkedIn) or Anti-Bribery and Compliance at the Front-Lines (LinkedIn)

Author:

Christina Comben

“Top Misconceptions of Cryptocurrency as a Payment System”

 

Which can be read on Amazon Kindle Unlimited for Free  You can find more interesting articles by visiting us on one of the following platforms: AML Knowledge Centre (LinkedIn) or Anti-Bribery and Compliance at the Front-Lines (LinkedIn)

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