Ever since it was revealed that Donald Trump would take on the role of President, which was a neck and neck race between him and Hilary Clinton, many were quick to point fingers at Russians.
Throughout the election campaigns, anonymous accounts were used to leak several e-mails regarding the Democratic Party, which made Clinton look bad. Today, it has been confirmed that the Russians did have a role in the end results and their interference was apparently done through the use of Bitcoins.
According to a summons released July 13, 2018, by the Justice Department, 12 Russian agents were involved, in what was described as a thought out “hacking scheme”. The details shared include their involvement, the exact dates that transactions were carried out and much more.
Chainalysis, a firm devoted to assisting government officials retrace cryptocurrency payments, was in on the mission to verify whether or not Russians did interfere. Based on the claims made by its Co-Founder, Jonathan Levin,
“this is the first clear example in court documents of cryptocurrency being used to purchase capabilities that could be leveraged in attacks on national security”.
The released statement broke down the different ways the agents used the cryptocurrency platform to succeed in the attempt to disrupt the U.S elections.
First, it has been confirmed that Bitcoins were used for “purchasing servers, registering domains and making payments in furtherance of hacking activity”.
Second, due to the privacy associated with Bitcoin and its platform, the agents were able to easily disguise themselves as well as their “sources of funds”. Next, some Bitcoins were allegedly purchased off of cryptocurrency exchanges, which also hides the details as to who is making what purchase or sale.
Then comes bitcoin mining, which according to the summons, is an activity that the agents took part in. Despite the expenses associated with mining, they have managed to successfully pay them off using Bitcoin.
To add to their efforts, it has also been exposed that a “private network account”, also known as a VPN account was purchased using Bitcoins to leak stolen emails of the Democratic National Committee and the Chairman of the Clinton campaign, John D. Podesta. All of which was spread out via a Twitter account, which was operated by the agents.
Fortunately, it was through the blockchain’s traceability that American investigators were able to make sense of Russian interference. As much as their findings were not able to stop the hacking at the time, it gives a clear picture as to how problematic blockchain and cryptocurrencies can be. This is mainly why government officials fear the growing number of money laundering, trafficking and other related cases.
Levin stressed the importance of tracing payments in a clear-cut statement, which went as follows:
“The fact that cryptocurrencies are global and real time means that you might only find out about these things after the fact […] We need to think about responsibilities that we all have in a world where payments move seamlessly across borders in the blink of an eye”.
What are your thoughts now that we’ve seen an innovative technology misused to negatively influence an entire country?