Crypto Facts: U.S. top crypto volume source, ransomware abuse persists

Craig Wright – Satoshi Nakamoto imposter or not – Judge not impressed

Two new crypto research studies were released last week, which reveal that the United States still leads the crypto world with respect to sourced exchange volumes and that 64% of the payments taken from victims of ransomware attacks rely on crypto addresses as their means of settlement.

Top Sources of Traffic to Crypto Exchanges Globally

Cointelegraph Japan released a report on May 31 that concludes that the United States, followed by Japan, is “the top source of traffic to cryptocurrency exchanges globally”. The top four countries in the study account for nearly 50% of the total volume collated, with the shares determined to be: United States 24.5%; Japan 10%; South Korea 6.5%, and Indonesia 4.5%.

The crypto industry has a major volume reporting issue in that a number of reports over the past year have confirmed that a great deal of cryptocurrency volume is “fake”, due to wash trading, bot trading, and other nefarious tactics. The study makes no attempt to delineate these reporting issues, nor does it attempt to record volumes from China. Crypto trading is banned in China, but investors have learned how to connect to exchanges via “Virtual Private Networks” or “VPN’s”. Unfortunately, the use of a VPN connection inadvertently records the transactions as emanating from another country.

One other interesting tidbit from the research was that there appears to be a correlation between crypto volume statistics and GDP economic data for the countries listed. Per the report: “Data shows poorer countries aren’t trading crypto as much as wealthier countries.”

Ransomware using cryptos for laundering purposes

Chainalysis, a crypto industry analytics firm that “provides blockchain analytics tools that enable firms, governments and law enforcement to monitor blockchain transactions and track suspected illicit activities”, released a new report that confirms that ransomware attacks continue to use cryptocurrencies to launder ill-gotten gains on more than a majority of occasions. The firm “claims that 64% of ransomware attackers launder their ill-gotten funds via crypto exchanges”.

Organizations have been particularly vulnerable to these ransomware attacks, where malware blocks access to sensitive data files. A ransom is demanded in order to provide a “decryptor key” that will release the files for access by the victim. Criminals use Bitcoin and other tokens, due to the anonymity provided by blockchain technology. Chainalysis conducted its research ostensibly by assembling known ransomware addresses and then following the trails from those addresses.

It also noted a slight change in the trend of this nefarious activity, in that the crooks now are focusing on larger targets, typically ones “with legally or politically sensitive data”, and demanding larger ransoms. In the past, Chainalysis has also released research about crypto exchange compromises. In this recent study, they noted that ransomware crooks do not go to the great extent that hackers do when moving their “loot” about. Hackers may “layer” their distributions with thousands of transactions. Ransomware crooks are far less robust in their “smash-and-grab” tactics.

Coveware, another research firm, revealed that Bitcoin is used 98% of the time to fund ransom demands. In line with the Chainalysis report, it also noted an increase in the size of ransom payment demanded. In just one quarter, the price tag has risen 89% from $6,733 at the end of the 2018 to $12,762 in the first quarter of this year.

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Crypto Facts: U.S. top crypto volume source, ransomware abuse persists

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