Interpol to work with a Korean start-up in tracking down cryptocurrency exchanges on the dark web
Interpol said March 20 it has signed an agreement with Korean start-up S2W LAB, which specializes in data analysis, to track down cryptocurrency exchanges on the dark web. Under the agreement, S2W LAB will provide data on the cryptocurrency exchanges occurring on the dark web, as well as international money laundering. # The relationship between the dark web and cryptocurrency The dark web is an overlay network that can only be accessed through approval or through specific software. And because of its characteristics, the dark web is like a double-edged sword. It could be used for good intentions, such as protecting confidential information or exposing corruption, but it can also be used to access child pornography or hire contract murderers. The reason cryptocurrency is mentioned along with the dark web is because cryptocurrency is used as a means of payment within that corner of the internet. Additionally, there is a demand for cryptocurrency for money laundering, although this is less associated with the dark web. Cryptocurrency has come up in a recent controversy, in which sex trafficking via the instant messenger app Telegram used virtual currencies as payment in order to hide the illegal transactions. Jarod Koopman, the United States Internal Revenue Service director, in January pointed out cryptocurrrency’s atomic swap on the dark web as area that needs improvement. Atomic swaps allow peer-to-peer exchange of cryptocurrency without having to go through exchanges. He said while cryptocurrency technology could be used for good, there’s a need to strengthen know-your-customer identity verification systems to prevent money laundering. # Cooperation with Interpol The dark web could be used for various cybercrimes with malicious intent. The cooperation between Interpol and S2W LAB aims to prevent such activities. The Interpol is an organization that was created to smooth out international cooperation of police forces in each different countries when the criminal dodges overseas. Past cooperation were mostly centered on offline international criminals. However, recently cooperation in tracking down international cyber criminals have risen. Especially the various criminals working on the dark web has become a major issue. The Korean security start-up S2W LAB will be working with the Interpol for a year to provide big data on the dark web as well as cryptocurrency laundering prevention solution. “We have accumulated massive quantities of big data in relation to dark web,” said S2W LAB CEO Suh Sang-duk. “Based on the data, we will contribute in coming up with cybercrime preventive measures.” # Is cryptocurrency the best tool for money laundering? As cryptocurrency has been mentioned in regards to numerous cybercrimes, there has been a growing perception that cryptocurrency is the best tool for laundering money. However, considering the characteristics that cryptocurrency is based on blockchain, cryptocurrency on the contrary could be easier to track than the conventional currencies. Although cryptocurrency exchanges are not based on real-name transactions, the distinct addresses of the people involved in the transactions makes it that much transparent, making the transactions easier to track down. Even the processes are recorded on the blockchain transparently. And if a person involved even once uses cryptocurrency exchanges registered on the KYC system, it makes it that much easier to be traced back. However, tracking down the transaction could be difficult when a dark coin, which is uniquely created for anonymity, is used instead of the general cryptocurrency that we know such as bitcoin. But even this has seen improvement recently, as many countries are adopting the FATF (Financial Action Task Force) cryptocurrency guideline. The local cryptocurrency exchange operators last year adopted the FATF guideline and removed dark coins.